I Wanna Hold Your Hand

(Robert Zemeckis, USA, 1978)


At the moment of Secrets (1992), an Australian film about the great era of Beatlemania in the '60s, several reviewers naturally recalled this movie, the debut feature of director Robert Zemeckis (Death Becomes Her, 1992). But they tended to misremember it as a static teen talk-fest in the manner of John Hughes' The Breakfast Club (1985).

Unlike the Beatlemaniacs of Secrets, however, Zemeckis' heroes and heroines have a higher goal than group therapy in mind. Fanning out through the hotel where the Fab Four are staying before their historic TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, these teenagers seek nothing less than divine communion with the objects of their fannish adoration.

Given that Steven Spielberg helped set it up, it is perhaps no accident that Zemeckis' riotous, ingeniously constructed film is virtually a secular remake of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Secular, because the ecstasies these teenagers experience are located firmly in the realm of the body, not the (ersatz) spirit.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand is an energetic, insightful essay about pop culture – especially the myriad motives and behaviours of its consumers.

From the disaffected '50s rocker to the bespectacled nerd, from the Dylanesque folkie to the suddenly liberated Italo-American: Zemeckis finds a place for them all in this vivid panorama of pop.

MORE Zemeckis: Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Contact, Back to the Future

© Adrian Martin December 1992

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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