After lying in a vault for 50 years, footage of The Beatles Let it be recordings has finally been reconstructed by Peter Jackson in a new three-part, eight-hour-long film, correcting the narrative of the breakup of the world’s greatest rock band.
Before watching this, I was less than a casual Beatles listener. I had heard a few of their songs and vaguely knew about the band as a whole. My main interest in the film was Peter Jackson, my favourite director of whom I’ll watch anything and everything he does regardless of my personal interest.
However not surprisingly after eight hours of watching them I have developed a newfound love and appreciation for the band and their songs.
It’s not even really a film or a documentary but instead a time capsule. We literally get to watch history unfold in front of us like we’re flies on the wall. I couldn’t help but be sucked into their world.
What it does is really let you get a feel for who the Beatles were not only as musicians but as friends. It doesn’t tell us what they were like, there’s no talking heads or narrators but instead shows us them in the most natural way possible.
Because it’s eight hours, Jackson gets to show every day of the recordings in detail. Thanks to the original director of the project -Michael Lindsay Hogg, just about every intimate moment between the four has been filmed or recorded, some of which was done without the band knowing.
As a result, we’re able to see everything; from the friendship of the band, the technical side of planning albums and most fascinating of all is seeing McCartney and Lennon conceiving and developing their now-iconic songs. We literally get to watch McCartney create the song Get back as if out of thin air.
Watching an artist in their element is always interesting but being able to observe legendary stars developing their art in such natural ways was fascinating to me and provided an interesting look into the creative process of an art form that I previously knew little about.
In fact, Jackson makes sure you know the whole crew by name and the jobs they do and to me, this really emphasised how much work went into creating an album. Even if you’re not sure of their music I think you would still come out of it with a greater admiration for the band and what they achieved in the 8 years they were together.
Image Credit: Disney
On a technical level, the film also looks and sounds amazing thanks to Jackson’s reconstruction. At the start, it can feel as though you’re watching a watercolour painting but after 5 or 10 minutes you forget all about it. You almost feel as though you’re in the room with them.
The reconstruction of the sound was particularly impressive, I can’t help but wonder what other archive footage could be fixed next.
Of course, the film dispels many myths about the breakup of the Beatles. For years many people believed the band broke up due to Paul McCartney’s ‘controlling nature’ or because of Lennon’s wife Yoko. But this film unveils the truth.
Whilst there are some dramatic arguments and Yoko Ono’s presence does seem to unnerve some people, it’s clear after watching that the four just outgrew each other. And whilst it’s sad to watch, the film as a whole is very happy and relaxing and depicts their separation as more of a natural thing that happened.
After hours and hours of watching the band practice, the film culminates with the Savile row rooftop concert in its entirety. It’s a joy to watch and it feels like such a relief to see them performing their songs live, it really is like a final victory lap for them.
The film ends the Beatles’ story on a high. When the credits began to roll I didn’t even really care about what happened next. It doesn’t matter that they broke up a year later, the footage proves that they were happy and proud of their work.
Overall regardless of your opinion on the band, it’s great that the narrative behind the Beatles breakup can be corrected and it can be remembered as a happier time for all involved. Even if you’re not their biggest fan I would still recommend even a casual watch as it’s a fascinating insight into the world of 60’s music.
Image Credit: Disney