Director Peter Jackson is the only person in 50 years to be granted access to the private recordings with which he created The Beatles: Get Back.
Fans of The Beatles will be absolutely thrilled over the three part series from filmmaker Peter Jackson that is coming to Disney+. This collection of private recordings and unseen footage showcases the friendship and working relationship that Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison had as it all leads up to their famous rooftop performance.
The documentary takes place in January 1969 with beautifully restored footage and audio that The Beatles fans will surely find themselves lost in. During an interview with Director Peter Jackson, who is the first person in 50 years to be given access to these film archives, it was clear that this documentary was a passion project for him, and he is a big The Beatles fan himself.
Director Peter Jackson Interview
When asked how he gained the trust of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison so that he could do this documentary Peter Jackson laughs, saying that he has no idea really. He explains that he first met Paul at the premiere of one of his Lord of the Rings movies, The Two Towers. The two chatted and shared that they were fans of each others work.
One thing led to another and Jackson found himself at a meeting in London with Apple Corps about a potential AR or VR Beatles project. This project never happened but it did bring about what is now The Beatles: Get Back.
Jackson did not want to come off as a fan but causally asked if any of the unused footage from Let It Be was still around. They told him there was about 60 hours of film and 130 hours of audio and he immediately started thinking about how he would be able to see it. He didn’t have to wait too long though, because it turns out they had been thinking of creating a documentary out of the footage, if it was good enough to use.
This is where Jackson pitched himself, saying they would need a filmmaker to do that and said he had a bit of space few years if they were interested in him taking the project on.
Fans of The Beatles know that the Get Back sessions are notorious. They have been described as miserable because this is when they were breaking up. As a Beatles fan himself, Jackson describes how much he was dreading looking at the footage, if it was going to be as bad as was described. It has been told that they were squabbling the whole time and couldn’t even be in each other’s company.
Jackson was determined not to make a miserable film. He wanted to make a happy one. He even warned Apple Corps that if that was not going to be possible, he wasn’t going to make the documentary.
“I’m watching it and I was laughing. I thought it was unbelievable. I can’t believe I’m seeing Paul compose Get Back. God, this is incredible. It was day by day, 22 days go by, got about through about half of it and there was certainly… George leaves at some stage and things are going wrong and they’re trying to work it out, but that happens. That’s just life, that’s not The Beatles breaking up. That’s just an ambitious project that was probably overly ambitious and things are going wrong.” – Director Peter Jackson
Jackson describes the footage as great and not at all what he had in his head for 30, 40 years.
Yoko Ono is widely noted as the main reason that The Beatles broke up. However, in The Beatles: Get Back she is seen sitting there, right next to John, and the band is still being productive. They aren’t fighting about her at all. This film is another example of why not to blame her, and Jackson completely agrees with that.
“it’s interesting when you’re as famous as The Beatles, everything that gets reported and written about it in the passing of time it becomes a sort of a myth. It’s either black or it’s white, you know? Yoko is either not in the studio or she’s in the studio breaking up the band. It’s either one or the other.” – Director Peter Jackson
Jackson goes on to explain that Yoko is there because she and John are in love. When he leaves for work in the morning, he doesn’t want to say goodbye to her and be away from her for eight hours. So he wants here there and why not?
“Would the others prefer that she wasn’t? Maybe, they probably would, but they love John, so if that’s what John wants, that’s okay. And you know what with Yoko? The critical thing with Yoko, which I think must be recognized is she doesn’t interfere with what they’re doing. She doesn’t pipe up after three rehearsals of Get Back and say, ‘Oh, I think that solo should be faster.’ She never, ever interferes with them. She sits there, she knits, she writes, she does some art, she’s there with John. She never, ever interferes.” – Director Peter Jackson
The Beatles: Get Back shows that Yoko was always very respectful of The Beatles and the work they were doing, she just wanted to spend more time with John. This is something that fans can see for themselves as they dive into hours and hours of restored, unseen footage.
About The Beatles: Get Back
Directed by three-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “They Shall Not Grow Old”), “The Beatles: Get Back” takes audiences back in time to the band’s intimate recording sessions during a pivotal moment in music history. The documentary showcases the warmth, camaraderie and creative genius that defined the legacy of the iconic foursome, compiled from over 60 hours of unseen footage shot in January 1969 (by Michael Lindsay-Hogg) and more than 150 hours of unheard audio, all of which has been brilliantly restored.
Jackson is the only person in 50 years to have been given access to these private film archives.
“The Beatles: Get Back” is the story of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as they plan their first live show in over two years, capturing the writing and rehearsing of 14 new songs, originally intended for release on an accompanying live album. The documentary features – for the first time in its entirety – The Beatles’ last live performance as a group, the unforgettable rooftop concert on London’s Savile Row, as well as capturing the writing and rehearsing of 14 new songs, originally intended for release on an accompanying live album.
The documentary features – for the first time in its entirety – The Beatles’ last live performance as a group, the unforgettable rooftop concert on London’s Savile Row, as well as other songs and classic compositions featured on the band’s final two albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be.
An exciting new collaboration between The Beatles and Jackson presented by The Walt Disney Studios in association with Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Productions Ltd., “The Beatles: Get Back” is directed by Peter Jackson, produced by Clare Olssen (“They Shall Not Grow Old”) and Jonathan Clyde (“Eight Days a Week”), with Ken Kamins (“The Hobbit” trilogy) and Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones (“Eight Days a Week”) serving as executive producers. Jabez Olssen (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) serves as the documentary’s editor, and the music is mixed by Giles Martin (“Rocketman”) and Sam Okell (“Yesterday”).
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Hollywood Critics Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.