The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is making some bold new steps in the field of documentaries. After digitally restoring World War I footage with They Shall Not Grow Old, he’s moving to decidedly lighter fare with The Beatles: Get Back. Disney announced that they will release the film on September 4th and it will feature “extensive, never-before-seen footage of the legendary band’s ‘Let It Be’ recording sessions along with the entire iconic rooftop concert.” For those who don’t know, the “iconic rooftop concert” was when the Beatles performed from the top of London’s Saville Row. It would be the last time they ever performed a live concert as a group.
Per the press release:
Compiled from over 55 hours of unseen footage, filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969, and 140 hours of mostly unheard audio recordings from the “Let It Be” album sessions, “The Beatles: Get Back” is directed by Jackson and produced by Jackson, Clare Olssen (“They Shall Not Grow Old”) and Jonathan Clyde, with Ken Kamins and Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones serving as executive producers.
The footage has been brilliantly restored by Park Road Post Production of Wellington, New Zealand, and is being edited by Jabez Olssen, who collaborated with Jackson on 2018’s “They Shall Not Grow Old,” the groundbreaking film which featured restored and colorized World War I archival footage. The music in the film will be mixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios in London. With this pristine restoration behind it, “The Beatles: Get Back” will create a vivid, joyful and immersive experience for audiences.
In a statement, 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.” Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr signed off on the movie as did Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.
So why is this film important? I think the press release does a pretty good job of laying it out:
Although the original “Let It Be” film, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and the accompanying album were filmed and recorded in January 1969, they were not released until May 1970, three weeks after The Beatles had officially broken up. The response to the film at the time by audiences and critics alike was strongly associated with that announcement. During the 15-month gap between the filming of “Let It Be” and its launch, The Beatles recorded and released their final studio album, “Abbey Road,” which came out in September 1969.
I’m a huge Beatles fan, and I can’t wait to see this movie. I’m sure some die-hards will see a Beatles movie being released by Disney as just another step in the long commercialization of the band’s music, but that ship sailed long ago. I’d argue that what helps keep the Beatles relevant is that younger generations have access to that music in the first place, and I hope that parents and their kids will check out this movie.