Documentary – Beatles Documentary: A film excess for fans

Actually, the members of the Beatles didn’t have much to say to each other when they rented a room in the London film studio Twickenham in January 1969, almost a year before the band split up, with the plan in their luggage, completely withdrawn here and freed from technical bells and whistles to work out a new album with 14 songs. At the end of this multi-week jam session, the live recording should take place in front of an audience, without any orchestral background music and as pure as you knew the Beatles – from their early days.

The project was to become a highlight in the band’s ten-year career; therefore the jam and rehearsal process was permanently filmed. Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg later turned it into the documentary “Get Back”, the idea came from Paul McCartney.

Mammoth film project

Director Peter Jackson spent months in the editing room rearranging the archive footage. – © Disney +

From the filmed material, which lasts more than 60 hours, and around 140 hours of sound recordings, director Peter Jackson has now assembled a mammoth work that will make Beatles fanatics in particular shine: Jackson cut three films from them, each lasting more than two and a half hours. It has become a close portrait of this band, which was noticeably in the process of dissolving. Sometimes more directly, but often between the lines, Jackson works out the situation in January 1969 with the relationship between John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The images from the cameras don’t lie: They show looks and gestures of tension, they show images of a petrified Yoko Ono who insisted on being part of all the Beatles’ rehearsals, and they show how the band nevertheless performed a creatively and artistically outstanding performance worked out, conflicts or not. For a long time, “The Beatles: Get Back” has become an insightful insider report. Anyone who has always wanted to play Mäuschen at the work of the most successful band of all time (with more than 600 million records sold) will now have the opportunity at Disney +, where the documentaries will be launched daily until November 27th. “This phenomenal collection of never-before-released film material offers unparalleled insight into the ingenious songwriting and indelible impact of one of the most iconic and culturally influential bands of all time,” enthuses Disney boss Bob Iger, who has secured the worldwide rights to the film. “We think we know the Beatles,” says director Jackson. “We’ve seen their films, their appearances, their press conferences and all of those things. But these are all stage situations. This is honest though. It’s a look at the real guys that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”

Jam in the film studio in preparation for the recording of the Beatles

Jam in the film studio in preparation for the recording of the Beatles’ last album “Let It Be” (1970). – © Linda McCartney

Jackson therefore does not focus on the conflicts within the band, although these are obvious, but instead shows how they hone their songs, doubt their status and are looking for what once bonded them as a band: the love of music .

At the time of the shooting of “Get Back” the band hadn’t been on stage together for a long time. At some point, the show concept with the adventurous escapes from its own fans, because they got so out of hand, for the four mushroom heads worn out. They decided to stick with studio recordings.

Concert on the roof

For the documentary, however, they wanted to appear in front of an audience one last time, and in the end it was the legendary rooftop concert at which the band played on the roof of their London office building. Much to the amazement and enthusiasm of the passers-by, who suddenly and involuntarily witnessed a live concert by the Beatles, which was also a recording session for the twelfth and final studio album “Let It Be”, which was released in May 1970 Record stores came. Live recording in the open air instead of studio technology and soundproof walls – perhaps this search for the originality of their art was the glue that kept the band together until after the last major project. At least that’s what Jackson’s cut suggests.

The power that the Beatles songs unfold in the final concert on the roof is unprecedented: Whether it is the longingly whispered “Don ?? t Let Me Down”, in which Lennon puts all his vocal abilities, or the rocky-brisk ” Get Back “, the band presented themselves in incredible shape. The documentary shows how this form came about, because at first everything seemed rather chaotic, Peter Jackson agrees: “The Beatles wanted to write songs and do a TV show, but they hadn’t played live for a long time before. The last time you was in the meantime late manager Brian Epstein was there and took care of the planning. This time they went about it without their usual support team.

The fact that Jackson was allowed to use the material at will is probably due to the fact that weed has long since grown over old conflicts: “There was not a single complaint on the part of the Beatles,” said Jackson. And that, although Michael Lindsay-Hogg had filmed quite a few private conversations that allow a pure, undisguised view of the band in the last year of their existence. The four band members were well aware of the situation at the time, that they were in the media’s interests of the director, and they disrupted his recordings by turning up the amplifier loudly so that he could not record what was being said.

“The Beatles: Get Back” in its entirety is a cinematic-musical excess of seven and a half hours, which does not offer every viewer the entertainingness that one may be used to. For real Beatles fans, however, such a close proximity cannot be long enough. This also applies to Peter Jackson: “You really have to be a Beatles fan to make this film. And I am one.”

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