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Feature


It's 1964 and a group of teenagers obsessed with The Beatles run around New York City on the day of the band’s Ed Sullivan debut trying to meet them. With police and security stopping them at every turn the friends struggle to find their way into the Fab Four’s hotel room but when the teens split up, they each take their own journeys that get them close to their idols.

 I Wanna Hold Your Hand
The Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis pairing is now obviously legendary because of the Back to the Future Trilogy but this film from early in their careers already show the magic the pair can create (with a bit of Spielberg production thrown in for good measure of course). This snapshot of one of the biggest days in pop culture history for the biggest band in the world comes with its on set of stories and here the two Bobs get to build their own version of it. These teenagers, that are part American Graffiti, part Happy Days in their depictions are flat out fun to be around and through them we get to experience some Beatlemania!

Whether it’s the wild girl fan who NEEDS to see Paul McCartney in the flesh, the girl with career goals of taking photos of the band, or Nancy Allen’s character who goes through a sexual awakening because of her freak encounters with the band, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Even the support to all of this via the boys along for the ride, who are a little more meek or street tough and of course the full on nerd Beatles fan that does Beatlemania with knowledge and collectables over swooning and screaming, the whole gang makes this a fun romp through Beatle fandom.

 I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Zemeckis does what he does best with this flick and generates a sense of constant forward momentum that stems off of the choices the characters' make. The fever to meet The Beatles hits the ground running in a record shop but still manages to grow and grow through hotel rooms and wild individual character choices and it all pays off bringing everyone together for a wholly satisfying finale as the band perform on the Ed Sullivan show.

Also the techniques used to recreate the Ed Sullivan live broadcast, having the actual Beatles footage playing alongside the just about far enough away to not spot doubles for The Beatles is pure Zemeckis special effects playfulness. These re the sorts of visual tricks, he has always continued to play with in his later films and its great to see them forming so well here. The comedy tone is Zemeckis and Gale gold and the sort of thing they perfected in the BTTF films, the characters here are just full of life and youth (despite all looking 30) keeping the film travelling at a brisk pace.

Once again Zemeckis and Gale takes history and manipulates it for our entertainment, making it feel fresh and fun and alive through the eyes of their characters. He plays perfectly on the history of Beatlemania, generating the excitement around the four lads from Liverpool and their effects on their fans and non-fans alike. The film feels like a fun caper style comedy but still manages to stay grounded in reality and it gives the whole film a genuine sense of heart and charm and a total celebration of pure fandom.

 I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Video


The image throughout this Blu-ray presentation is warm and full of autumnal colours giving the film a real glow. Skin tones run warm and it enables the film to still look full of life even in the early darker late night driving scenes.

The night time driving scenes around the cities are extremely reminiscent of American Graffiti and the documentary style of the exterior shots look fantastic. Glowing headlights lighting character's faces and generally back-lighting everything keeps the film showing off its new HD power and honestly gives the film a whole new lease of life.

As the film grows, so do the crowds and close and wide shots alike come brimming with rich detail and some super sharp edges. The natural lighting into film literally make Beatles crowds all look individually impressive with their coats and scarfs and sells the scale of the film better than ever before.

The presentation retains a genuine sense of restoration throughout, there's a few soft edges here and there but then textures win you back or some of the depth to the image in the exterior scenes really show of the sharpness of the film. Universal have done a great job freshening up the film.

 I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Audio


Original Beatles music in a feature film is no mean feat, especially for the late 70s. Press footage is one thing but the genuine Beatles footgae along with the music is great and hearing it here in DTS-HD MA makes it all the better. Strong surround sound placements of the songs keep The Beatles as characters throughout the film and whether the driver to the scenes or just bopping along in the background the Fab Four sounds great here.

The dialogue sits in the centre and sounds a little dated but the rest of the speakers are filled out to widen the track a great deal. Crowded record stores, screaming girls, Beatles mania, it all sits in the left and rights as well as the rear speakers, giving the film a much bigger feeling than I've ever experienced with it before. It's not all good as some elements feel like they've been cloned from a single speaker and spread over multiple speakers and it generates a not always intentional or indeed fitting echo sounds to dialogue. Look out for this later in the film in lifts and car parks.

As the film moves on the screams grow and boy are they overwhelming at times. Filling the rear speakers, you sense the weight of the screaming girls causing havoc and the excitement building as we get closer and closer to The Beatles appearance.Upper pitches can get shrill, especially when Rosie shouts, screams or whinges but this is more to do with the age of th film than the track's failings.

 I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Extras


The Commentary track with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale is an easy listen as the pair often provide and it's coverage of the film makes up for the total lack of anything else on here. The 'Photo Gallery' and 'Trailer' is a disappointing wrap up to the extras section. Also the less said about that frankly awful cover art the better. Yuck.

 I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Overall


I've seen I Wanna Hold Your Hand a few times over the years but it's one of those films that drift in and out of memory so this was a good opportunity to re-watch. It's an incredibly bold first feature from Zemeckis and absolutely highlights the director's taste for doing the impossible in film. I mean to make a film about The Beatles but not really include the Beatles is one thing but making that a whole lot of fun and using the band's original music is a rare thing.

Generally this is fun to watch on a whole lot of levels, whether for Beatles fandom or the oddness of watching a girl getting off on Beatles instruments, this one captures an era and sets it's own rules around that well without feeling like a spoof or a send up of how fan-crazy these teenagers were.

The disc itself looks pretty great, sounds pretty great (despite some echo issues) and the commentary track is solid, I just wish there were more extras on here, it seems to warrant a whole lot more of them.

* Note: The images on this page are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the true quality of the source.



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