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The Beatles: Get Back - Peter Jackson Beatles documentary


JohnC
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https://deadline.com/2019/01/peter-jackson-beatles-let-it-be-documentary-recording-sessions-paul-mccartney-john-lennon-ringo-starr-george-harrison-1202544762/

 

Not actually titled yet, but it's a documentary based on 55 hours of unreleased footage shot during the making of the Let it Be album. Has full cooperation from Apple Corps and Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.

 

His WWI documentary worked out well and he'll be using the same people that restored that footage to work on this, though presumably it won't need quite as much work beyond cleaning it up and HD-ifying it.


 

Quote

 

“The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage and 140 hours of audio made available to us, ensures this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamed about – it’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together,” Jackson said in a statement.

 

“I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” Jackson said. “After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating – it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate. I’m thrilled and honored to have been entrusted with this remarkable footage – making the movie will be a sheer joy.”

 

 

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I actually only watched the original Let It Be documentary very recently, as someone stuck it on YouTube around Christmas and it stayed on there for a few weeks.

 

It's got a reputation for being buried by what's left of Apple (it's never been released on anything more advanced than VHS) because it shows the band irritable and grumpy with each other and on the verge of splitting up. But in that respect, it's really incredibly mild. There's an infamous argument between Paul and George ("I'll play whatever you want me to play, whatever will make you happy") which has been blown up over the years (the clip was featured in the Anthology documentary) but it comes across as a mildly irritable disagreement on arrangement. When it comes to music documentaries showing bands in an unflattering light, it's not exactly Some Kind of Monster!

 

Really the biggest problem with the documentary is that apart from the rooftop concert it's quite boring. It's not an exciting record of a band being really productive working on their masterpiece, it's a record of a band noodling around procrastinating in a cold and echoey studio. So many of the snippets of dialogue are devoid of any context, and despite how much was filmed, you don't really get to see the development of a complete song through various takes. (This is something that anyone revisiting the footage must surely be able to improve!) The best bit is when Heather McCartney whacks a drum, making Ringo pretend to jump out of his skin.

 

The article uses the phrase "fly on the wall", which is also the name of the bonus disc that comes with the 2003 remixed edition Let It Be... Naked. That was also a collection of brief audio snippets, similarly devoid of context.

 

Hopefully the sheer quantity of footage that was recorded will make it possible to put together something more interesting than the existing documentary.

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The problem Let It Be had was that it was originally conceived as a TV special for “Get Back”, where the Beatles would “get back to where they once belong” by putting on a one off concert (they were influenced by the then unreleased Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus which Lennon was on). The original concert ideas were at a Roman amphitheater, but they ended up bickering so much that they just played a gig on Apple’s rooftop in Saville Row.

 

I don’t think there was any plan to release the album after Abbey Road, but it turned out Yellow Submarien didn’t fulfil their 3 movie contract and seeing as The Beatles were pretty much finished by early 1970, Apple decided to put together the film Let It Be to fulfil the contract (and brought in Phil Spector to polish off the album). 

 

The thing is you can tell there isn’t much of a purpose to the film, there’s no real end goal and you get the distinct impression of everyone apart from McCartney being miserable. 

 

It will be interesting to see what Jackson does with it because theee are some great songs (The bootlegs from those tapes have lots of eventual solo Beatles songs on them, as well as quite a few covers). But the problem is that unless you’re a massive Beatles fan, I’m not sure what’s in there to make it interesting - even when McCartney got his way and they released the stripped back Let It Be Naked, they had to splice most of the songs together to make them decent enough. If you get a chance, listen to the original Glyn Johns produced “Get Back with Don’t Let Me Down and 9 other songs” album and you’ll see that most of the songs fizzle out, with mistakes throughout the songs. 

 

But if anyone could do something decent with the 50+ hours of footage then it’s Peter Jackson. 

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  • 1 year later...

Great timing, been on a bit of Beatles binge over the weekend after catching Mccartney on Howard Stern. I always felt the Beatles were a bit square when I was a young kid in the mid 80s. I was into Electro/Hip Hop and then when I moved into Rock/Pop I was all abut Talking Heads and Pink Floyd and a million other bands. Then a big House head.

 

I had a mate who loved them when we were about 13 and I'd scoff that they were a proper dad band and equivalent to Elvis. 

 

Absolutely adore them now, and Elvis was certainly someone I shouldn't have scoffed at either. I actually prefer them now to all my formative music, which is a bit weird.

 

Really looking forward to Jackson's documentary, loved his treatment of the WW1 footage so have high hopes he can knock up what surely must be hours of mundane footage into something really interesting with hitherto unseen clips.

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I’m really curious as to how it’s going to differ from the original Let It Be/Get Back film, which you’d have to assume would have already used the best footage that was available. I managed to watch that a few years ago, and really enjoyed it, but I was very struck by how grim the rehearsal space in Twickenham studio seemed. 

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I'm sure in one of the recent Stern/Mccartney clips (there are dozens and dozens) Mccartney mentions something about the 50 hours of footage being off the table for previous docs. Lost down the back of a couch or somewhere. How true that is or if he was just being flippant I don't know but he definitely alluded to it being rarely seen stock.

 

Suppose we'll find out in 2021.

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I do like the band but probably wouldn't just sit down to listen to them, but anything from that era and the kind of odd mundanity of the process of them making music and  everything that surrounded them I find fascinating. The filmic quality of that footage and the colours and Billy Preston arriving in that dank studio is incredible to wallow in. I know that's not a trailer and was heavily caveated, but it looks really exciting. 

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7 hours ago, GwiDan said:

I’m really curious as to how it’s going to differ from the original Let It Be/Get Back film, which you’d have to assume would have already used the best footage that was available. I managed to watch that a few years ago, and really enjoyed it, but I was very struck by how grim the rehearsal space in Twickenham studio seemed. 

 

Me too, actually. Looked well grim and bare.

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