The Beatles: Get Back features the greatest band in music history making magic in the final moments even as we know what’s happening.
The Get Back Sessions resulted one of the final albums from the greatest band of all time, Let It Be. Let It Be might have been the final album released but Abbey Road was the final one recorded. For what it’s worth, some songs did follow from the Get Back sessions into the recording for Abbey Road. For many Beatles fans, the only to watch Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s Let It Be documentary over the years was via bootlegs only. Over 50 years later, Peter Jackson and company has meticulously restore the footage to give us a very special documentary.
It’s funny though. The filming might not happen without “Hey Jude.” The promo video taping would be their first time in front of an audience in years! Initially, The Beatles had a soundstage to rehearse at the Twickenham Film Studios in January 1969. It was a way to get the group back to their roots before one final show. Unfortunately, as we know, things started to fall part. George Harrison left the band and would only come back if they moved things over to Apple Studios. Along with this, they also bring on Billy Preston as a guest keyboardist. The session might be tense but we get one final Beatles concert out of it. It’s not the big concert they imagined. But still, it’s not as depressing as we once thought it to be.
One of the things I love about the sessions is when they’re having fun. Nevermind any of the tension, they have fun performing the covers or some of their older tunes. It’s during these moments where all you want to do is just be in the room and watch the magic go down!
Whether you’re familiar with The Beatles or not, you get a quick introduction at the start of the first episode. Watching the highlights is a nice prelude to the magic about to go down. My introduction to the Beatles first came 26 years ago when The Beatles Anthology aired on ABC. I’ve been a fan ever since but to experience this documentary in its total glory is like, well, I don’t even know what to say. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since Disney first announced a documentary. I think the Disney+ route is a good thing because there’s just so much footage. I mean, they have north of 150 hours and Peter Jackson narrows it down to about eight hours. That’s right. You’re going to need about eight hours to watch it! The first episode is just over 2:30 and the second one is short of 3 hours.
By the time we get to the start of part 3, it’s been sixteen days. The Beatles are three days away from performing some kind of show, presumably on the rooftop of their building. Make that four days because of bad weather. This final installment is just short of two and a half hours but my G-d, it’s so much fun to take in the experience. Speaking of the rooftop concert, where do I even begin? All we need to do is just sit back and watch the final Beatles concert because that’s the last time they perform together. Take in all 42 uninterrupted minutes because everyone went their own separate ways following Abbey Road. Tragically, John Lennon’s murder would prevent any in-person reunion from ever happening. Imagine a full-fledged reunion of The Beatles during Live-Aid! What could have been!
The beauty of The Beatles: Get Back is that fans get to see these songs evolve over the month of recording. There’s a lot of improvising in the lyrics before they result in what we hear today. But hey, these are geniuses at work so we know they’ll figure it out sooner than later. I mean, we’re talking recording over 22 days rather than a few months! How many bands are capable of such a feat? Not many, I suppose. They were under pressure because Ringo was set to do a film with Peter Sellers and would not be available for a while. And again, without The Beatles Anthology, I would not have become a fan of their work. No CDs or learning how to play guitar either. They were about love, peace, and understanding–something we could all learn from today.
Jackson isn’t alone in the process. Jabez Olssen serves as the film’s editor. This is not an easy feat, not with this much footage at hand! Giles Martin supervises the music while joining Sam Okell in mixing the music. Overall, there’s a lot of work that went into the sound mixing and re-recording mixing. Prior to the pandemic, the thinking was maybe a two and a half hour theatrical documentary. But because of the pandemic, Jackson had more time to give us a longer film and we’re all the better for it. Ultimately, it took three years to edit this one to what we’re watching!
The Beatles: Get Back and McCartney 3,2,1 makes for a complementary 1-2 punch. Once again, the rivalry between The Beatles and The Beach Boys is at play in the form of documentaries between these two and Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road!
DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson
FEATURING: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Disney+ launches The Beatles: Get Back over three days starting on November 25, 2021.
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