Fresh perspective

Published date30 November 2021
Publication titleSignal
WHEN the world closed down in March 2020, most of us had to make do with video calls or baking bread. Peter Jackson, meanwhile, was busy sifting through a mountain of unseen footage — 60 hours in total — of the Beatles, shot by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969.

His four-year project is now finished and the resulting series, The Beatles: Get Back, has been released on Disney+.

The series is three two-hour episodes, using the mass of outtakes from Lindsay-Hogg’s work on what would become Let It Be, the band’s fourth feature film.

It is striking just how much joy is contained within the vivid and eerily detailed footage.

Contrary to most accounts over the past 52 years, John, Paul, George and Ringo are seemingly happy to be in the studio: laughing, joking, singing in the style of ventriloquists, talking about last night’s TV (Peter Cook and Zsa Zsa Gabor having a spat) and, of course, writing music.

It’s a unique insight into a band at work, restored to a modern, HD sheen. It’s also a study of four of the most idolised and scrutinised individuals in the world in their prime. This is not just a music documentary, it’s a history book come to life.

“I just can’t believe it exists,” Jackson says.

“But then I can’t believe any of it — that the Beatles let Michael shoot all that footage, that it sat in a vault all this time ...

“What other band in the ’60s or ’70s allowed themselves to be shot in such an intimate way? There isn’t another. And then I got to edit it. The whole thing boggles my mind.”

Jackson’s involvement goes back to 2017, when he was contacted by Apple Corps — the company set up by the Beatles in 1968, and which handles all of the band’s affairs — due to his interest in virtual and augmented reality technology.

Apple Corps was hatching plans for a Beatles museum show. The interaction led Jackson to inquire about using the mythic Let It Be footage, unseen for half a century.

Eventually, he received permission, although he had one condition: he did not want to make a miserable film, so wanted to see all the footage first.

Let It Be was, as the perceived wisdom goes, a miserable experience. John Lennon referred to the sessions as “six weeks of hell”, while George Harrison called the whole period “the Beatles’ winter of discontent”. Even McCartney has said that in attempting to offer a fly-on-the-wall view of a Beatles album being made, what they had really done was show the world what the breakup of a band looks like.

Lindsay-Hogg’s film was...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT