Like many Beatles fans, I spent my Thanksgiving break and the week after watching the new three-part documentary “The Beatles: Get Back,” directed by Peter Jackson, on Disney+.
Using 150 hours of audio and over 60 hours of never-before-seen footage for the 1970 documentary “Let It Be” directed by Sir Michael Lindsay-Hogg, we see the fab four right before their breakup.
“Let It Be” has always been a dark spot among fans. It has not been seen in the best light since its release 50 years ago. The band were shown at their most contentious, fighting and disagreeing about what songs they should write and perform. You can see the disintegration of the band in real time.
When it was announced that Jackson would be compiling all the unused materials and remastering them for a new documentary showing that it was not all fighting, I was excited, but also started to wonder whether after 50 years of books, biopics, documentaries about the band, can anything else be said about The Beatles?
The documentary takes a fly-on-the-wall approach with no narration; the audience gets immersed in The Beatles’ world and the late ‘60s. It takes place over 21 days in Twickenham Film Studios and The Beatles’ own Apple Studios, with John, Paul, George and Ringo writing new songs and planning their first live performance in two years.
We see the formation of legendary songs such as “Get Back” and “The Long and Winding Road.” It’s fascinating seeing the countless rewrites these songs went through to what the final version came out to be. So many of the songs that are shown being written would end up on their last two albums, “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be.” The making of rock history was being filmed in 1969 for all to see.
Some of my favorite moments were the foreshadowing of solo releases such as “All Things Must Pass” and “Gimme Some Truth.”
Many preconceived notions about this period of time are shattered. For a good portion of the documentary, everyone is just jamming and laughing. Having fun just playing music in the studio. The inner workings of the band are on full display. At specific points while watching, I had to remind myself that all four members of The Beatles were all just a bunch of guys in their late twenties. Being in one of the most famous bands made them act older than they actually were sometimes.
Jackson still includes some of the not-so-good times, however. The most well-known is early on, as we see George Harrison temporarily quit the band because he was frustrated creatively due to the direction the band was going in and an argument with Paul McCartney. These moments showed that they were all drifting apart and growing as musicians. At the end of the day, they were all still human.
There is a bittersweetness to the documentary. The four members know that their time together is coming to an end. This is seen primarily when The Beatles are reminiscing about the past or playing old songs of theirs. That live performance I briefly mentioned earlier would be the band’s final public performance ever. It took place on January 30, 1969, unannounced on the roof of Apple Corps headquarters on Savile Row in London. This is a fitting end for a band that thought outside the box.
“The Beatles: Get Back” has given me a new appreciation for a lot of their later work. Jackson did a great job in celebrating their music and the influence they left behind.