I get a special birthday present in 2020 as The Walt Disney Studios is releasing acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson’s documentary “The Beatles: Get Back” in theaters nationwide on September 4.
The new film features extensive, never-before-seen footage of the legendary band’s “Let It Be” recording sessions along with the entire iconic rooftop concert. The footage has been fully restored by the talented team at Jackson’s studio.
In 1969, The Beatles were at the top of their influence on the world and still had the warmth, camaraderie and humor they were known for. The film will feature the making of the legendary band’s studio album, “Let It Be,” and their final live concert as a group, the iconic rooftop performance on London’s Savile Row.
Robert A. Iger, Executive Chairman, The Walt Disney Company, made the announcement today at Disney’s annual meeting of shareholders.
“No band has had the kind of impact on the world that The Beatles have had, and ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ is a front-row seat to the inner workings of these genius creators at a seminal moment in music history, with spectacularly restored footage that looks like it was shot yesterday,” says Iger of the announcement. “I’m a huge fan myself, so I could not be happier that Disney is able to share Peter Jackson’s stunning documentary with global audiences in September.”
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 Peter Jackson.
The footage has been 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,” a 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.
“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,” said Peter Jackson. “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.”
The remaining members of The Beatles are supportive of the project:
“I am really happy that Peter has delved into our archives to make a film that shows the truth about The Beatles recording together,” said Paul McCartney. “The friendship and love between us comes over and reminds me of what a crazily beautiful time we had.”
Ringo Starr says, “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.”
“The Beatles: Get Back” is also being made with the enthusiastic support of Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.
But wait? Isn’t there a “Let It Be” film already?
Yes. The original “Let It Be” film, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and the accompanying album were filmed and recorded in January 1969, however 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.
Shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm, the 80-minute “Let It Be” movie was built around the three weeks of filming, including an edited version of the rooftop concert. The GRAMMY-winning “Let It Be” album topped the charts in the U.S. and the U.K.
The new documentary brings to light much more of the band’s intimate recording sessions for “Let It Be” and their entire 42-minute performance on the rooftop of Apple’s Savile Row London office.
While there is no shortage of material of The Beatles’ extensive touring earlier in their careers, “The Beatles: Get Back” features the only notable footage of the band at work in the studio, capturing John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as they create their now-classic songs from scratch, laughing, bantering and playing to the camera.
Shot on January 30, 1969, The Beatles’ surprise rooftop concert marked the band’s first live performance in over two years and their final live set together. The footage captures interactions between the band members, reactions from fans and employees from nearby businesses, and comical attempts to stop the concert by two young London policemen responding to noise complaints.
A fully restored version of the original “Let It Be” film will be made available at a later date.
“The Beatles: Get Back” will be released by The Walt Disney Studios in the United States and Canada on September 4, 2020, with additional details and dates for the film’s global release to follow.
If I may clarify:
Paul McCartney filed for dissolution of the group in 1970, but John Lennon didn’t sign off until 1974 in Walt Disney World. Ironically, “Please Please Me” just popped up on my iTunes playlist. Listening to it now.