In tegenstelling tot de gangbare opinie ben ik altijd al een grotere voorstander geweest van de tweede film van The Fab Four. Ik verkies hem met andere woorden boven “A hard day’s night”. Toen ik hem onlangs echter heb teruggezien (op de BBC) viel hij mij een beetje tegen. Toch wel meer tijdsgebonden dan ik had gedacht. Maar dat is “A hard day’s night” ook. Om nog van “The Magical Mystery Tour” te zwijgen!

According to interviews conducted with Paul McCartneyGeorge Harrison and Ringo Starr for The Beatles Anthology, director Richard Lester was given a larger budget for this film than he had for A Hard Day’s Night, thanks to the commercial success of the latter. Thus, this feature film was in colour and was shot on several exotic foreign locations. It was also given a more extensive musical score than A Hard Day’s Night, provided by a full orchestra, and including pieces of well known classical music: Wagner‘s Lohengrin, Act III Overture, Tchaikovsky‘s 1812 OvertureBeethoven‘s Ninth Symphony (“Ode to Joy”), and, during the end credits and with their own comic vocal interpretation, Rossini‘s Barber of Seville overture. The original title for the film – only changed to Help! very near to its release – was Eight Arms to Hold You.

Help! was shot in London, Salisbury Plain, the Austrian AlpsNew Providence Island and Paradise Island in the Bahamas, and Twickenham Film Studios, beginning in the Bahamas on 23 February 1965. Starr commented in The Beatles Anthology that they were in the Bahamas for the hot weather scenes, and therefore had to wear light clothing even though it was rather cold. Tony Bramwell, the assistant to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, stated in his book A Magical Mystery Tour that Epstein chose the Bahamas for tax reasons. According to The Beatles Anthology, during the restaurant sequence filmed in early April, Harrison began to discover Indian-style music, which would be a key element in future songs such as “Norwegian Wood“. Filming finished on 14 April at Ailsa Avenue in Twickenham.

The ski scenes were shot at Obertauern, a small village in Austria. One reason this location was chosen was that the stars of the film were less likely to be recognised there than at one of the larger resorts with many British tourists. The Beatles were in Obertauern for about two weeks in March 1965 along with a film crew of around 60 people. Locals served as ski stunt doubles for the Beatles, who stayed at the hotel “Edelweiss”. Most of the crew were based in the hotel Marieta, where one night the Beatles gave an impromptu concert on the occasion of a director’s assistant’s birthday. This was the only time they ever played on stage in Austria.

The Beatles did not particularly enjoy filming Help!, nor were they pleased with the end product. In 1970, John Lennon said they felt like extras in their own film: “The film was out of our control. With A Hard Day’s Night, we had a lot of input, and it was semi-realistic. But with Help!, Dick Lester didn’t tell us what it was all about.”

Ten years later Lennon was more charitable: “I realize, looking back, how advanced it was. It was a precursor to the Batman Pow! Wow! on TV – that kind of stuff. But [Lester] never explained it to us. Partly, maybe, because we hadn’t spent a lot of time together between A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, and partly because we were smoking marijuana for breakfast during that period. Nobody could communicate with us, it was all glazed eyes and giggling all the time. In our own world. It’s like doing nothing most of the time, but still having to rise at 7 am, so we became bored.”

A contributing factor was exhaustion attributable to their busy schedule of writing, recording and touring. Afterwards they were hesitant to begin another film project, and Help! was their last full-length scripted theatrical film. Their obligation for a third film to United Artists was met by the 1970 documentary film Let It Be. The 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine did not meet contractual obligations because it did not star the Beatles, and their only live appearance was featured for less than two minutes at the film’s conclusion. (Wikipedia)

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