Cineplex screens Help! on Monday 26 November    Cineplex Announcement
In Ottawa, Help! was shown at Silver City, Gloucester on 26 November.
One showing only at 7 pm. $9.95

Exclusively at the theatre chain, the restored and remixed film was played in High Definition and 5.1 Digital Surround Sound. The one-time only event was on November 26th, at 32 select theatres across Canada. That's not all. Only at these screenings were fans able to see a 15-minute interview with director Richard Lester and actress Eleanor Bron, which was shot recently in London. The interview does not appear on the "Help!" DVD, released Tuesday 13 November.    

Al Findlay works at Silver City in Ottawa. He also writes songs for and plays with Yury Pelyushonok's band - "Strings for a Beatle Bass." So when Al told me Cineplex was screening the new version of Help! I got tickets for Laurie-Ann and me immediately, on line.

I'd told lots of people about the screening, but few of them turned up. I spotted Bob Kebanna, owner of Fab Gear 64, but apart from Al, who entertained the crowd with a Beatles trivia quiz, I recognized nobody. There were about 250 present, and here's the great news: the average age was less than 40. These people were here to see a film that came out before they were born! You know what that means? The Beatles will never die, 'cause each generation is introducing them to their kids. That's just fine with me.

The pre-film show was a selection of Beatles songs played in regular stereo. And then the film began, and wow! - the switch to 5.1 Digital Surround Sound was night and day different. Al had the volume up, thank goodness, and we were wallowing in lovely soundscapes of the title number, and beautifully restored images on screen. I realized we were in for a treat.

As Dick Lester explained in the post-film interview, the Beatles humour was on a continuum beginning with The Goons, proceding via Beyond the Fringe by Peter Cook and friends, and, following AHDN and Help! leading to Yellow Submarine, which was the model for the Monty Python graphics. It may be an acquired taste but for this ex-pat Englishman, it was delightful to rediscover the gems in this romp, interspersed by a sequence of songs that are timeless, and now are given their deserved treatment with today's technology. At the end I joined the rest of the audience in a hearly clap, not too common after movies.

It was a fun night out. Thank you Al Findlay and Silver City.

Postlude: on Boxing Day '07 I trotted off to Best Buy and got the DVD for a very reasonable price and have enjoyed the film a couple more times in my living room. Those mopheads really were so pretty and cute, and these were some of the best pictures ever of them. One niggle I have about the DVD is that the sound options are limited to PCM Stereo and DTS 5.1 surround sound. Both Yellow Submarine and AHDN had regular 5.1 Dolby surround sound, which my system will play. But I don't have DTS, so Help sounds better in PCM Stereo. I'm sure the tank battle on Salisbury Plain co-ordinated hillariously by Leo Mckern must be terrific in DTS. The second disk - special features - is excellent. One of the features is a review of the whole extraordinary business of film restoration; I had no idea how painstaking those very specialists are, and we owe them a great debt.

- Tony Copple