Projecting the Visuality of The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night and Help!

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In our increasingly mediated visual culture, we have acquired a tendency to see before we listen. And looking back on the evolution of the Beatles as a serious topic for cultural study, it is fair to say American university visual arts courses, at least, recognized Beatles films for their own sake before the group’s musical contributions to popular culture were deemed worthy of academic attention. Even the critically denounced Magical Mystery Tour (1967), on campuses, was treated as an important cultural product or as “art” beyond any entertainment value (or dearth thereof). But such recognition really begins with the Beatles’ first two filmic endeavors, A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965), which, taken together, anticipate the mid-1960s seismic shift from Beatlemania to the Beatles as a Gesamtkunstwerk or, rather, from an outlet for “incorrigible” teenagers to the irrefutable, all-encompassing voice for an entire generation of progressive-minded young adults on both sides of the Atlantic – and around the world. But this “voice” was cinematically seen in these films before it was musically heard on forthcoming albums, namely Rubber Soul, Revolver, and, of course, Sgt. Pepper’s.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Beatles in Context
EditorsKenneth Womack
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781108296939
ISBN (Print)9781108419116, 9781108409520
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameComposers in Context
PublisherCambridge University Press

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