Beatles Songs And Movies, A Beautiful Marriage

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This post, contrary to what this picture may imply, is not about Beatles songs in their OWN movies, but rather about Beatles songs in OTHER movies.

Music and movies are more intricately connected than we often give them credit for. Music may exist perfectly fine on its own without any attachment to a movie, but a movie would not be a fraction of its final product without accompanying music to set a mood. Music alone can give a movie scene a lighthearted tone, an eerie mysticism, or an inspirational spirit, even if the actual footage and dialogue used in the scene is the same regardless of the music choices. It also makes a difference to the audience whether the song is well-known or not, as the sudden appearance of a classic rock song, for example, in a movie is likely going to create a different reaction among an audience than a modern indie track.

It’s no surprise to me that many movies over the years have famously featured Beatles songs. The Beatles’ lyrics, especially for songs such as “Eleanor Rigby” and “A Day In The Life,” tell stories akin to how a movie strings together a narrative about characters, places, and hardships. This makes their songs well equipped to accompany movie scenes.  In addition, many opening riffs to Beatles songs are so iconic that the audience immediately recognizes them, adding a sense of familiarity to a scene in a movie that, by endearing itself to the audience in this way, allows the audience to sympathize with or relate more to the character in question than they may otherwise. I am more knowledgeable about music than I am about movies, but several notable examples of this beautiful marriage between Beatles songs and movies come to mind, which I’ll share with you here. Feel free to comment with any additional examples that may be close to your heart.

Baby You’re A Rich Man- The Social Network

This is one of the more critically acclaimed uses of a Beatles song in a movie that I can recall in recent memory, and with good reason. This song, which was originally directed by the Beatles towards their manager Brian Epstein regarding his hedonistic lifestyle, fits in perfectly to question Mark Zuckerberg at the end of this movie. If you’ve never seen The Social Network, during the scene with this song, Mark Zuckerberg is sitting in a conference room, on the cusp of Facebook’s truly explosive breakthrough into mainstream culture that is about to make him a billionaire. However, the movie ends (spoiler alert? this has been out for several years…) with him being put in his place by his constant refreshing of his friend request to his ex-girlfriend, and by this song playing in the movie’s background. I love how the song speaks directly to the listener, asking “How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? How often have you been there?” The way the scene is shot, it seems like the song speaks directly to Zuckerberg. It’s a sharp critique of upper-class social life that remains relevant today, as do so many Beatles songs. I’m glad to see that an underrated song like this one received well-deserved attention for its feature in The Social Network, an excellent movie in its own right.

Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight- Sing

This is a more lighthearted addition to this list, which warrants a place mostly because of Jennifer Hudson’s incredible voice. I loved the movie Sing largely for how it celebrated an unbridled love for music, theater, and the arts in general. This song features in both the beginning and end of the movie, initially as a rather diva-esque moment for Jennifer Hudson’s character, and later as a satisfying moment of closure for the characters after the emotional roller coaster that they have all gone through. I cannot recall another animated movie in recent memory that used a Beatles song in as effective moving a manner as this one. Especially near the end of the movie, when the heartfelt characters are finally having their moment in the sun and singing their hearts out, I teared up a bit as this song played again in the movie’s background. Songs such as this from the second half of Abbey Road have a unique power to signify closure, in my opinion because they were among the last songs on the official last Beatles album. I always associate this song with the end of that fantastic album, and featuring it at the beginning and end of a heartwarming movie such as this created a familiar sonic pleasure for myself, and hopefully for other Beatles fans at the movie theater.

Because- American Beauty

Despite being the major Beatlemaniac that I am, I honestly don’t think I noticed that the version of this song in the movie is actually a cover, sung by Elliott Smith, until I looked it up. It sounds nearly identical to the original Beatles version, minus the instrumentation present on the Beatles’ version. This particular Beatles song is known for being one of their most beautiful and also most haunting songs, with which I completely agree. It perfectly complements the themes of the ultimate banality of American suburban life, and also the remarkable qualities present in every aspect of our lives, that this movie features. I find American Beauty a bit scary at times, especially at the very end, and this song plays perfectly into the slightly eerie tone of the entire movie.

Twist And Shout- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

This is one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies of all time. The marriage of song and scene here perfectly captures the universal appeal of the Beatles and how they manage to bring diverse crowds together all over the world, nearly 50 years after they split up. One thing interesting about this scene is how it begins with just Ferris singing along on the parade float, but gradually the entire crowd joins in until the entire street is singing along, young and old, to this classic song. This also illustrates to me the power that Ferris wields throughout the movie to bring people together who may have never associated with each other before, such as his sister Jeanie and Charlie Sheen’s character in the police station. “Twist and Shout” also captures the carefree, happy-go-lucky spirit of the entire movie that defines Ferris’s free spirit on his day off. Out of all of the iconic scenes in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, this scene stands out as perhaps the most iconic precisely for the use of this song.

All You Need Is Love- Love Actually

Last, but certainly not least, is a wonderful scene from another one of my favorite movies, which is perhaps the most literal interpretation of a Beatles song on this list. This scene, like American Beauty, features a cover of a famous Beatles song, this time by a joyful choir in the church during a wedding ceremony. I love how the traditional organ music after the couple exchanges vows quickly segues into the opening chords to “All You Need Is Love,” which begins an even more ceremonious rendition of the song when groups of instrumentalists suddenly stand up from their pews and play the song’s familiar riffs, in my opinion one of the most charming parts of this entire enchanting movie. I love most how delighted Keira Knightley’s character is by the whole affair, though frankly I don’t blame her. If I was surprised on my wedding day with a gospel choir singing a Beatles song, I think I’d react similarly. Anyway, this short scene always sticks out to me as a particularly effective use of a Beatles song  to communicate the message most prominent throughout their musical catalog: love.

Notice how I did not include any songs from the movie Across The Universe, a 2007 movie which featured entirely Beatles songs and which I have not seen. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this movie in particular, and I’ve also only listened to several of the tracks from the movie, which are all sung by cast members. From what I’ve heard, I don’t really love these versions of some of my favorite songs, though perhaps in the context of the movie they leave a different impression. But that’s for another blog post to hash out.

I may do a sequel to this post in the future if I think of any more movies I love that feature Beatles songs, or if a new movie comes out with a Beatles song I love. That’s all for now!

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I Finally Saw The Beatles On The Big Screen!

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One of the biggest news events in Beatle-land this year has been the recent release of the Ron Howard documentary about the Beatles’ touring years, entitled The Beatles: Eight Days A Week. As I have mentioned before, it’s been a dream of mine for years to go see a Beatles movie in the theaters and pretend I’m a fan from the 1960s seeing A Hard Days Night upon its release.

I tried to do that back in 2012, when a documentary called The Beatles: The Lost Concert was scheduled for wide release in theaters. This documentary (supposedly) captured the frenzy of the Beatles’ first concert in North America, which occurred in Washington D.C. on February 11, 1964. Unfortunately, it was never released in theaters due to copyright issues. When I learned of its canceled release, I was heartbroken, but I never stopped believing that perhaps one day another Beatles documentary would find its way to a theater near me.

I first heard about The Beatles: Eight Days A Week over the summer, and even after watching the official trailer on the Beatles’ YouTube channel and visiting the movie’s website, I still sort of thought it was too good to be true. I reserved mild hope that I’d be able to see this movie, but I figured that my efforts to see the Beatles on the big screen and learn new Beatles trivia would be thwarted once again.

However, as events fell into place, the stars aligned, and my prayers were answered, I actually was able to see this movie at a theater near my school just a few weeks ago! I was so excited at the prospect of seeing 90 minutes of remastered Beatles footage and audio, and the movie definitely exceeded my giddily high expectations.

At this point in my Beatles fandom, I’ve read and watched so much about them that it’s difficult for me to be shocked by any aspect of their narrative. And yet I continue indulging in Beatles-related releases like this movie because I am always amazed at their magical story. The Beatles’ rise to success in the 1960s is a remarkable tale, filled with astounding chart domination, incredibly concentrated musical output, and incalculable influence on the culture of their era. I keep coming back to Beatles movies, articles, and programs because I revel in hearing about how they took the world by storm and altered the whole concept of rock music and success for a band. It’s infectious and endlessly fascinating.

Back to the movie at hand, it certainly did not blow my mind with a wholly new perspective on the Beatles’ touring years. However, it was a thoroughly enjoyable movie-watching experience for a Beatles fan. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of backstage footage that I had somehow never come across on YouTube or television. These clips emphasized that the Beatles really were a hilarious four-headed monster, at least in their early days. The movie also detailed a few points about the Beatles’ stops in specific areas of which I was not previously aware.

These included a 1964 Beatles concert in Florida that they flatly refused to perform unless they sang to an unsegregated crowd. Though the Beatles were from England, they were very conscious of the racial tensions present in the US at the time and took this opportunity to maintain their belief that any form of segregation was morally wrong and unacceptable to them. This isn’t really a huge spoiler, but I previously had no idea that the venue actually agreed to unsegregate the seating for that particular concert so the Beatles would still perform,  which helped set a precedent for unsegregated concert venues in that and surrounding areas.

This movie also focuses a lot on the difficulties that the Beatles faced during their rise to worldwide acclaim through their tours. I was not wholly aware of the actual danger that they were in just entering a building or driving around. There were many clips of near-riots on streets all over the world that stemmed from the Beatles’ arrival in that particular city. This is a helpful reminder for aspiring musicians that the only sustainable reason to become a musician is because you deeply love music, not because you want to be famous. I am always in awe of the immense scope of Beatlemania in the mid 1960s, but it certainly was not all good days and sunshine.

Despite all of this, I would trade just about anything to spend one day experiencing the height of Beatlemania. However, seeing this movie in the theaters is probably the next best thing. The Beatles: Eight Days A Week may not be groundbreaking, but honestly, barring some huge, covered-up scandal I don’t know about, it is difficult for any new Beatles project to be groundbreaking. What I absolutely love about the release of this movie is how it contributes to keeping the Beatles’ music and story alive in today’s generation. As long as there is the occasional Beatles-related project or musical re-release, I’ll have confidence that they will remain eminent figures in cultural lore.

The news today, oh boy, in Beatleland

This picture describes me so well!

This picture describes me so well!

For today, I thought I’d do a relatively quick post highlighting some important things going on across the Beatleverse. First, I just saw this article today, and it got me very excited! A new feature-length documentary about the Beatles! There can never be too many of those! Hopefully this one, unlike The Beatles: The Lost Concert, will actually make it to theaters without being pulled due to copyright issues…
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/ron-howard-directing-new-beatles-doc-focusing-on-bands-early-years-20140716
As much as I already know about the Beatles’ existence, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of seeing the same magical story told over and over again. It’s almost like seeing a favorite musical continually revived year after year.

I also watched a fantastic program about the Beatles on CNN last week entitled, “The Sixties: The British Invasion”. It was the sixth part in a ten-part series about the most important and revolutionary events of the sixties. As you might have guessed, this episode focused on the arrival of the Beatles in America and the impact of the entire British invasion on American life. I will admit that I saw a VERY similar program on PBS a while back, but that didn’t make this one any less interesting. I always enjoy hearing about how groundbreaking, innovative, and fab the Beatles and their 60s counterparts were back in the day. 🙂

In other news, Paul has begun touring again after a health scare in May. Thank goodness he is better, and judging from a video of a recent concert, he appears to be in his usual top form. I know this may sound greedy considering that I’ve already seen Paul in concert once, but I would give just about anything to see him again. Those fireworks during Live and Let Die were even better than advertised!

This is a bit unrelated, but thanks to tangerinetrees99, I found this incredible list of symptoms of Beatlemaniacism, which I will share with you. I think at least 90 of these apply to me. And yes, I did bother to read the entire list. That’s what any true Beatlemaniac would do!
http://www.quibblo.com/quiz/fvKWJLM/101-Ways-to-Know-Youre-Too-Obsessed-With-the-Beatles

There are no particularly Beatley events coming up in the very near future for me, but if anything comes up, I will definitely blog about it. I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful summer/winter, depending on what side of the world you’re on. 🙂

A Hard Day’s Poll

As many of you may know, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America. It also marks 50 years since the release of their first movie, A Hard Day’s Night. To commemorate this, about 500 theaters across the US are re-releasing A Hard Day’s Night this July! Although I own the movie on DVD, I still sort of want to experience it in a actual theater. If only the movies would charge 1964 prices for this special event… 🙂

After reading an article about this in the newspaper today, which included an original review of the movie from 1964 (the reviewer back then apparently did not know George’s name…), I was inspired to break out my DVD and watch this movie, yet again. I’ve probably seen it about six times in its entirety by now, and I found myself reciting a lot of the lines under my breath, in attempted Scouse accents. I love how fast paced this movie is, which shows how crazy and hectic the Beatles’ actual life was back then. In fact, this movie plays more like a documentary than a traditional movie.

Just as a side note, a couple of famous teenage extras in this movie include Phil Collins and Meryl Streep. How awesome it would have been to be an extra in this film! That would surely be a story to tell the grandkids. Also, considering that this movie was made to capitalize on the Beatles’ fame at the height of Beatlemania, I don’t think the screaming girls throughout the movie were really acting… 🙂

Anyway, with this movie in mind, I’ve created a poll devoted to the Beatle movies. Personally, I would probably vote for both Help! and A Hard Day’s Night as my favorites, but I’d love to see how others vote. Enjoy!

My Top 10 Favorite Movies

The Beatles while filming Magical Mystery Tour

The Beatles while filming Magical Mystery Tour

I know this list won’t be strictly Beatle-related, but I felt like I had to do it at some point. I’m not really into movies the same way I’m into music, but I do enjoy a lot of movies, mostly comedies, and thought I’d share some of my favorites with you! There are a couple of Beatle-related movies on here as well. 🙂

10. Elf
I thought about not including this since it’s a Christmas movie, but a good movie is a good movie, regardless of the season. Anyway, I absolutely love this movie! I saw it it in the theaters when I was young, and ever since I’ve been entranced by its charm. I really don’t know how anyone could dislike this movie, unless they can’t stand Will Ferrell. Whom I love dearly, so that’s not an issue for me. 🙂

9. Stranger than Fiction
I first watched this back in January when my friend recommended good Will Ferrell movies for me to watch. As soon as I saw this, I was hooked. The story is fascinating and the acting, from Ferrell to Emma Thompson to Dustin Hoffman to Maggie Gyllenhaal, is phenomenal. Also, for a movie not based on a book, the screenplay is fantastic. Not that many people know about it, but it’s a great movie that makes you laugh, cry a little, and contemplate life.

8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Though I’m a huge Python fan, I’ve actually only seen this entire movie once. That said, I think it’s one of the most brilliant comedies ever made. I don’t think I’ve laughed harder at a movie from start to finish ever than I did at this movie. This would probably be ranked higher if I’d watched it more than once, but I do love it. A lot.

7. A Hard Day’s Night/Help!
I know in a previous list I separated these two movies, but here, I just can’t. They’re both so great for different reasons, and really I don’t prefer one over the other. I really should just have all of the Beatles movies in this slot.

6. The Sound of Music
I’m definitely a sucker for old fashioned movie-musicals, and this I think is one of the best. Whenever this is on TV, which thankfully is pretty often, I have to watch it and sing along to all of the songs. Julie Andrews has one of the most beautiful singing voices I’ve ever heard, and all of the songs are classics.

5. Forrest Gump
Watching this in my history class recently reminded me just how much I loved this movie, which is why I’ve included it here. I don’t think I need to tell anyone why it’s amazing, but I’ll just echo the masses and say that Tom Hanks is a brilliant actor. This is also one of the only movies that really makes me emotional at the end. It’s visually stunning, emotionally penetrating, and well deserving of its status as a modern classic.

4. George Harrison: Living in the Material World
I hope I’m not cheating by including a documentary on this list, but this one is so amazing that I can’t resist. It’s three and a half hours long, but it never drags. And of course, it’s about my dear George. 🙂
He lived a very interesting life, which lends itself well to a fantastic documentary. I’ve probably watched this 4 or 5 times. By the end, I’m always crying, but always glad I watched it again. I’d recommend this to any music fan or fan of documentaries.

3. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
The third and final Will Ferrell movie on this list, but probably the most well-deserved entry. I first watched this movie in December because of the hype over Anchorman 2, but as soon as I watched it, I understood why so many people love it. It’s absurd, ridiculous, weird, and absolutely hilarious. I tend to like movies with kind of a weird charm anyway, which this definitely has. Here’s hoping there will be an Anchorman 3!

2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
I am a huge fan of movies from the 80s, but this one stands above the rest I’ve seen as a true masterpiece. This is my go-to “snow day/rainy day/boring day” movie, and no matter how many times I see it, I laugh just as hard in all of the same parts. There’s also the memorable scene with Twist and Shout, which of course I love! If you’ve somehow never seen this, you’re missing out. And life moves pretty fast to be missing out on this. 🙂

This pretty much gives it away...

This pretty much gives it away…

1. Field of Dreams
I haven’t seen this in a while, but it’s without a doubt my favorite movie. I first watched it as a 7th grader obsessed only with the Mets and not yet with the Beatles, but as my love for the Beatles and many other things has developed, this has remained my #1 favorite movie. Its story is magical and uplifting in a way that truly distinguishes it as a work of art, and even my friends who aren’t baseball fans love this movie. I definitely need to watch this again soon, and you should, too!

I hope you enjoyed this list! Have a great week!