The Beatles: Get Back, the review: ask who the Beatles were. Peter Jackson will answer you

The Beatles: Get Back, la band in un momento creativo in studio

On the dissolution of the Beatles everything and more has been said and written. The most influential band in the world, the most innovative, made up of four English guys who would lead the way to what would come next, left an indelible mark on history and customs. From the sonic innovations to the elimination of the single frontman, from the care of the look to the jaunty image, suitable for a young band that was aimed at young people, from the political commitment to the collective hysteria that will fuel the groupie phenomenon, at the beginning of the 60s the Beatles broke a whole series of barriers, anticipating, with their gentle revolution, the real rebellion of the sixty-eighths. Inevitable that the dissolution of the English group caused dismay in the fans, prompting the exegetes to provide an explanation.

To clarify, now comes the exclusive docuseries of Peter Jackson in three episodes on the Fab Four, out on Disney+ on 25, 26 and 27 November. Of course, as ours points out The Beatles review: Get Back, the intent of the New Zealand director is not so much to reveal mysterious background on the relationship between the four members of the Beatles and the ubiquitous Yoko Ono, found guilty of the dissolution according to the official narrative, as to give the general public a unique and exceptional document that changes the perspective on the band.

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Beatles Roof

The Beatles: Get Back, an image from the famous Apple rooftop performance

A treasure for the fans, a testimony to the world

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The Beatles: Get Back, an image from the series

In 2018 Apple Corps., Which owns the rights to the Beatles’ work, proposed to Peter Jackson to view the video materials contained in his vault to create a product to be offered to the public. These materials also include the 56 hours of footage, and over 100 hours of audio, commissioned by the band to director Michael Lindsay-Hogg to make a TV special that was later canceled. Part of this shot merged into the documentary Let It Be, dedicated to the famous concert on the Apple roof in 1969. The result of the film was little loved by the band and its fans due to the gloom that transpires, but in the hands of Peter Jackson the material takes on a completely different form.

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The Beatles: Get Back, un’immagine

The uniqueness of The Beatles: Get Back lies in Peter Jackson’s choice to approach the unpublished materials with the enthusiasm of the fan. As a lover of the music of the Fab Four, the director deviates from the initial project of making a film by opting for an eight-hour docuseries, such is the richness of the original footage. Thus the compositional process of the Beatles materializes before the eyes of the spectators. Long daily sessions almost in real time in which John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison rehearse, laugh, chat, compose, improvise and occasionally discuss. To mark everything, a calendar that marks the days left to the live TV show, later canceled, which will give way to the famous performance on the roof of Apple Studios in Savile Row, in the heart of London.

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The Beatles Get Back John Lennon Paul Mccartney

The Beatles: Get Back, Paul McCartney e Lohn Lennon durante le prove

Respectful of the treasure that has fallen into his hands, Peter Jackson approaches the editing choices of The Beatles: Get Back letting the images of the band do the talking. Called to select a vast material, the director does his best to ensure that his intervention is minimally invasive. The impression is that to mark the times of the vision are the Fab Four, their music and their bubble. Around the four Beatles revolves a colorful entourage that includes managers, technicians, monks in prayer, wives and children, a brief visit from Peter Sellers, with whom Ringo was shooting The Magic Christian, in addition to the director hired to film rehearsals, Michael Lindsay- Hogg, who in the Peter Jackson series becomes, in turn, one of the protagonists. Entourage that will follow the Fab Four from Twickenham Film Studios to Apple studios in Savile Row over four weeks of passion, laughter, music and misunderstandings.

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Beatles and cinema: the parable of the Fab Four on the big screen

The restoration of audio and video materials

The Beatles Get Back John Lennon

The Beatles: Get Back, John Lennon in a moment of the film

After an eight-hour full immersion, what idea can we have about the relationship between the Beatles members in 1969? There are two essential aspects that emerge from Peter Jackson’s editing: the harmony and complicity which, despite the tensions, still seems to unite the four musicians and the evident leadership of Paul McCartney. Faced with a losing band – literally – pieces, McCartney takes the helm. The images in the series depict him as the most energetic and charismatic member, the one who has the clearest ideas, but this exuberance will be perceived by others as a desire to lead (one of the problems behind the breakup).

Beatles Get Back George Harrison

The Beatles: Get Back, an image by George Harrison

The material that Peter Jackson draws on was commissioned by the Beatles themselves, who are aware of being filmed at all times even though Michael Lindsay-Hogg allows himself the luxury of using hidden microphones and cameras in certain highlights. The exceptional restoration has managed to clean up the audio allowing us to also catch phrases spoken in a low voice by the Fab Four while they thought of beings covered by the music. Faced with a silent and unmotivated George Harrison, visibly in crisis, and a Ringo Starr who seems to be on good terms with everyone, it is clear that the artistic and emotional dialogue that animates the Beatles is that between the personalities of Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

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The concert on the roof, the magic of the live

Beatles Get Back Ringo Starr

The Beatles: Get Back, an image by Ringo Starr

After watching The Beatles: Get Back, every fan will be able to give themselves an answer on the real reasons that, a year after the Savile Row rooftop concert, led to the dissolution of the Beatles. Amidst abandonments, clarifications and crisis management, Peter Jackson’s docuseries also contain an unexpected amount of goodies ranging from playful musical performances of the classics (John and Paul performing Two of Us clenched teeth, like ventriloquists) to John Lennon who provides an unprecedented image of himself as he engages in imitations, rattles off obscene jokes, walks arm in arm with Ringo or plays with Linda McCartney’s daughter, Heather. And if Yoko Ono is present in every rehearsal session, and does not move away from John even for a second, her alleged rivalry with Linda McCartney is refuted by the images stolen by Michael Lindsay-Hogg who see them intent on confabulating smiling. There is even a sequence in which Paul reads a tabloid article about the band in an anchorman tone while John underlines each sentence with a funny commentary.

Beatles Get Back Tetto

The Beatles: Get Back – the concert on the roof of Apple

A separate discussion deserves the final part of The Beatles: Get Back, dedicated to the performance of the Beatles on the roof of Apple. The docuseries deserves to be seen even just for this tasty portion that arises from the synergy between the footage by Michael Linday-Hobbs, which even uses a hidden camera at the entrance to the studio, and the incredible editing by Peter Jackson. While the Beatles open the concert with theirs Get Back, the lens captures the astonished, pleased and irritated reactions of passers-by in the street below in a series of tasty interviews. The only ones allowed in the docufilm which are limited to using period material. The Beatles: Get Back is a document that photographs the end of an era. Despite the director’s intent to show a new side of the Fab Four, playful and full of humor, the vision can only generate a hint of melancholy in the viewer. The same melancholy that one feels when leafing through an album of old photographs while observing the remains of an era that will never return.

Conclusions

Eight hours of music, laughter, surprises and revelations. The Beatles: Get Back review can only underline the exceptional nature of Peter Jackson’s operation. The New Zealand director has reworked exclusive 1969 materials through a skilful restoration and editing work offering a treasure to the Fab Four fans and an exclusive document that photographs an era to the rest of the world.

Because we like it

  • Witnessing John, Paul, Ringo and George’s composing process is something unique.
  • Musical performances captivate us and catapult us into the 60s.
  • The series gives us a closer look at the personalities of the Fab Four and those who gravitate around them.
  • Peter Jackson’s devoted fan attitude doesn’t stop the director from putting his finger on the sore, revealing backstory and tensions as well.

What’s wrong

  • The material shot in 1969 was commissioned by the Beatles, at times one gets the impression that the musicians consciously choose to exasperate certain attitudes.
  • Ethical doubts about the use of certain audio recordings stolen without the knowledge of the speakers hover over the key moments of the series.

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