The Beatles: Get Back — Everything You Need to Know
In 1969, famed rock band The Beatles played their final concert on the rooftop of their London record office following the recording sessions for material that ended up on their final albums, "Abbey Road" and "Let it Be." Footage of the sessions, combined with that rooftop show, was released as the 1970 movie LET IT BE, but something always seemed to be missing.
Now director Peter Jackson (THE LORD OF THE RINGS) has gone back to the original 16mm film reels to create a new re-edited remaster of the movie. Working with 55 hours of unseen footage and 140 hours of audio from the recording sessions — most of which the public has never heard — Jackson has created THE BEATLES: GET BACK, effectively a new look at the band's final active period. Here's everything we know about the new Beatles movie.
The History of Let it Be
The recording sessions and rooftop concert that are seen in the original movie were filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969. He had already made other promo films for the band and had also worked with The Rolling Stones. Lindsay-Hogg had recently done the TV movie "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus," which featured a performance by Beatles co-founder John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono.
LET IT BE was originally conceived as a similar television project, with the rehearsal and recording sessions leading towards a concert broadcast under the title "Get Back," which was also planned as the album title. The project was meant as a "back to basics" approach to songwriting, recording, and performing. Ultimately the television approach was scrapped, and LET IT BE came into being as a theatrical release.
That's the original LET IT BE trailer above.
A New Look at Old Friends
Now we've got the first look at footage from THE BEATLES: GET BACK. You can see it just above, with an introduction from Peter Jackson. The images are pulled together by an evolving edit of the song "Get Back," with footage pulled from takes midway through recording and going through the rooftop concert.
LET IT BE, both as a movie and an album, has been controversial since the original release. The album featured embellishments, added by producer Phil Spector, which undermined the "back to basics" approach. Surviving Beatle Paul McCartney eventually spearheaded "Let it Be… Naked," a new mix of the record which restored the band's original intent.
The original movie, meanwhile, has been criticized for emphasizing the contention that had developed between band members, at the expense of depicting other aspects of their relationships.
In a statement, Paul McCartney said, "I am really happy that Peter has delved into our archives to make a film that shows the truth about The Beatles recording together. The friendship and love between us comes over and reminds me of what a crazily beautiful time we had." You can certainly see that spirit in the footage above.
Drummer Ringo Starr added, "I’m really looking forward to this film. Peter is great and it was so cool looking at all this footage. There was hours and hours of us just laughing and playing music, not at all like the version that came out. There was a lot of joy and I think Peter will show that. I think this version will be a lot more peace and loving, like we really were."
Peter Jackson's Approach
[Image Credit: TK STUDIO NAME TK]
THE BEATLES: GET BACK features a pristine restoration of the original footage, done at Park Road Post Production of Wellington, New Zealand. It is edited by Jabez Olssen, who previously worked with Jackson on the documentary THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD, in which archival footage from World War I was colorized, remastered and edited to offer a new look at soldiers who fought a century ago. The film's music is mixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios.
Peter Jackson said, "working on this project has been a joyous discovery. I’ve been privileged to be a fly on the wall while the greatest band of all time works, plays and creates masterpieces. I’m thrilled that Disney have stepped up as our distributor. There’s no one better to have our movie seen by the greatest number of people."
[Image Credit: TK STUDIO NAME TK]
The original LET IT BE ran a tight 80 minutes to showcase footage from both the recording sessions and the Savile Row rooftop concert at the office of Apple Records. The concert was edited down somewhat from its full 42-minute runtime.
In addition to featuring far more footage from the recording sessions, this new Beatles movie features the entire rooftop concert, complete with band and bystander banter and multiple takes of "Get Back," "I've Got a Feeling" and "Don't Let Me Down." There's no chance that GET BACK will let down any Beatles fan, old or new!
THE BEATLES: GET BACK opens on August 27, 2021!.
All images courtesy of Apple Films/United Artists; header image courtesy of Paul McCartney.