Features

The Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ Documentary: Everything You Need To Know

The forthcoming Peter Jackson-directed ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ documentary will offer a revelatory look at the band. Here’s what we know so far.

Published on

the beatles get back documentary
Photo © Apple Corps Ltd

At the beginning of 2019, Apple Corps Ltd and WingNut Films Ltd announced a new Beatles documentary, which would be based around 55 hours of previously-unreleased studio footage from the band’s 1969 “Get Back” and Let It Be sessions. Over the past two years, new information has continued to drop about the film, which was helmed by the Academy Award-winning director Sir Peter Jackson. Initially slated for a September 2020 release, The Beatles: Get Back will air on Disney+ between November 25-27.

As we await its premiere, here’s what we know so far about The Beatles: Get Back.

uDiscover Music Store - Rock
ADVERTISEMENT
uDiscover Music Store - Rock
ADVERTISEMENT
uDiscover Music Store - Rock
ADVERTISEMENT

It was made with the full co-operation of the band

Both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have sung the film’s praises, while John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono Lennon, and George Harrison’s widow, Olivia Harrison, have also offered their full support of the project.

It will be the ultimate fly-on-the-wall experience

“It’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together,” Peter Jackson has said. The footage used in Get Back was originally shot for Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 documentary, Let It Be, which captured intimate moments in the studio while the band rehearsed and recorded the songs for what would be their final album. The footage, now revisited by Jackson in a new light, is the only material of note that documents The Beatles at work in the studio.

It will feature the famous rooftop performance in its entirety

On January 30, 1969, The Beatles played a surprise performance on the roof of their Savile Row studio. Though footage of the live set has been well documented over the years, it has never been shown in its entirety. Jackson’s film will include the entire 42-minute performance.

Ringo recently shared his recollections of that iconic performance with Variety: “We’d decided to play together, as a live band. And we did think of other venues, and then we thought, ‘Wait, let’s just go up on the roof.’ And Michael shot that stuff on the roof really great, with a lot of cameras.” While the original film showed roughly 20 minutes of the performance, Ringo shared that he was thrilled to see the set in its entirety, adding “it’s great.”

The first cut was 18 hours

“The first cut was 18 hours long and I’d hoped that there’d be an appetite to say, ‘OK, let’s do a six-hour version,’ shared Jackson in a new interview with GQ. All the footage we’ve been cutting is there and we just left it as a cut scene, so it didn’t take us long to put a longer version together. I knew in this world of the internet and streaming and everything else, that we would find a home somewhere for a longer version – so that took the pain away from having to cut stuff out.”

Jackson used digital technology in combination with archival footage

Jackson explained in the same interview that they adopted technology from the film They Shall Not Grow Old to balance the film’s color palette, but little else was changed. It left the director feeling envious of fashion during that era. “All we’ve done is use the technology we developed for the WW I film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old,’ taking all this old First World War footage and restoring it. We haven’t tried to push the primary colors of the clothing up or anything. We’ve done no tricks like that. We’ve just balanced the skin tones, and the colors that you see, I’m assuming, are the colors that were there on the day. I mean, it does make you jealous of the 1960s, because the clothing is so fantastic.”

‘Get Back’ is a celebration

In the introduction to his interview with Peter Jackson in GQ, journalist Dylan Jones outlined how the new film is less of a bummer than the original. “‘The Beatles: Get Back’ is another step on the long and winding road to enhanced immortality, as the films show The Beatles at the very top of their game and not deteriorating, as they appeared to be in Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s ‘Let It Be.’ The Beatles’ very last film was a massive downer when it was released in 1970 and it has remained a downer ever since.” In short, Get Back is a celebration.

You can expect to hear new music

In addition to the 55 hours’ worth of film, Jackson is also working with 140 hours’ worth of audio recordings. Several of the songs culled during the sessions were included in the 1996 Anthology 3 compilation, which featured outtakes and demos from “The White Album”, Abbey Road, and Let It Be. However, there is plenty of music that hasn’t been officially released.

It will also offer a chance to observe the band members’ development as solo artists. Many of the tracks that didn’t make it onto Let It Be were later developed and included on their solo albums, including the Paul McCartney-penned ‘Teddy Boy’, which appeared on his 1970 debut solo album, McCartney, and George Harrison’s ‘Hear Me Lord’ and ‘Isn’t It A Pity’, which were later released on his 1970 album, All Things Must Pass. John Lennon, meanwhile, can be heard working on ‘Gimme Some Truth’ and ‘Oh My Love’, which both appeared in 1971’s Imagine.

The band’s true relationship is revealed

While Lindsay-Hogg’s feature film offered an in-depth look at The Beatles’ sessions, it also revealed some of the tense moments in the studio. In many ways, it documents a band on the verge of a break-up. Get Back, in contrast, looks at the footage as a whole, and paints a very different picture of the band’s time together. In a recent interview on The Howard Stern Show, Paul McCartney said, “We’re obviously having fun together. You can see we respect each other and we’re making music together, and it’s a joy to see it unfold.”

Meanwhile, in a statement, Ringo recalled, “There was hours and hours of us just laughing and playing music… 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.”

Speaking to Variety, Ringo added that the original film, “focused only on the one down moment…Everybody knows my position. I thought the downer was much bigger than the rest of it (in Let It Be). I was there. There was lots of fun… I said, ‘I know there’s lots of humor there.’”

“The reality is very different to the myth,” Jackson confirmed in a press release. “After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with.”

“The film creates a cheerful counter-narrative to the Beatles’ 1970 swan song Let It Be film, which essentially documented the group’s breakup and is a rather downbeat experience. The new film feels completely different, with the four members laughing and clowning around in classic moptop fashion,” wrote Variety, who were able to view segments of the film.

Listen to the best of The Beatles on Apple Music and Spotify.

“George
ADVERTISEMENT
George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
ADVERTISEMENT
George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
ADVERTISEMENT
32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Grahame

    April 18, 2020 at 4:04 am

    Sack the proofreader! It was 1969 they played on the roof. Ringo was seeing Elvis in 1970, just for your information….tut tut tut

    • Ben

      April 18, 2020 at 5:50 pm

      No need to sack anyone. Mistakes can be made. I enjoyed this article.

  2. Michael Magid

    April 18, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    I definitely want to see this but the spin on this is in stark contrast to George’s “winter of our discontent “ comment on Anthology. Additionally, they still portrayed the Get Back/Let it Be sessions as anything but happy on Anthology as well.

    • Hank

      April 18, 2020 at 9:27 pm

      55 hours will what else was happening .george was just mad because John wanted to replace him with Eric Clapton when he quit like a little girl.

      • Dr. Elliot J. Rosado

        March 29, 2021 at 5:03 am

        Correct

    • James

      April 21, 2020 at 9:17 am

      I agree, Michael. I’m afraid this new version is things is going to try to sweeten the past, McCartney style. I hope I’m wrong!

    • Ron Fowler

      April 21, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      I think it’s bs trying to pass this period off as all happy and joyful. The two guys that were most unhappy are not here to give their side of the story. If everything was up and positive, why did they break up a few months later?

      • Hank

        December 2, 2020 at 8:36 am

        The story is being told by 55 hours of unreleased film,how do you lie about what happened when its on film ??? And for your information they made Abbey Road right after Let it Be was filmed..Get the story right Bub
        ..

        • HPB

          December 22, 2020 at 5:29 pm

          Judging from the ‘sneak peak’ they are only using the laughing and funny moments from that entire period. Its very easy to edit a documentary to spin it in a particular direction/ viewpoint.

  3. davy jones

    April 19, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    the beatles broke up cuz paul was dead and the story leaked to the public, so they just broke up to cover it up

  4. Jimmy Wiggians

    May 6, 2020 at 12:23 am

    The Beatles broke up cause of a series of complex issues such as McCartney’s dislike for Allen Klein, John’s heroin addiction, Yoko’s distain for all things Beatle, George’s religious diversions, along with the general “we’ve all grown up and it’s time to leave the boy’s at the bar”.

  5. paul

    May 8, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    i LOVE the musical legacy The Beatles left us…… i was born in 1955, so i am very familiar with ALL of their music(band and solo music)….

    i dont have an opinion on anything except how their music affected me…. i am a musician.

    all the other people posting and commenting, MAY have valid comments, but i am pretty sure NONE of you know anything except what the tabloids of your nation and day were printing…..

    so, ALL of you, piss off with your second-hand info…… you werent there.

    • George Shibley

      March 23, 2021 at 9:06 pm

      Right on Paul.
      Born in 1955 myself, I feel we had the envious position of getting to know the Beatles for the music, being slightly too young to understand the social undercurrents and interplay of what was happening at the time. Not until I was 17-18 did I understand the sacrifices made by all four to give us what they did. The film will show the experience. I can draw my own conclusions.

  6. Rob Britton

    May 9, 2020 at 11:40 pm

    If Peter Jackson fails to include in his film, the song “I Lost My Little Girl” performed by John, with Paul’s help, he will have have missed a key moment in the Beatles’ history. This song was claimed by Paul as being the first one he ever recorded. At the Get Back sessions, John performed a complete recording of this song, in part ad libbed, which is intimate, unique, and unreleased. A must include song !

  7. Carmen

    May 14, 2020 at 9:18 am

    I just want to see the full rooftop concert all the rest is past history!

    • Abid

      December 25, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      yep could not agree more Carmen – all that matters is the music. any four people working together for a prolonged period of time will have disagreements and fall out but its the end product I care about – the rest is past history !

  8. Blakey

    May 23, 2020 at 2:00 am

    Basically this will not include George quitting, Klein, infighting, drugs, the Eastmans, George Martin getting elbowed for Glyn Johns, Yoko or John’s comments about the most miserable sessions on earth by the world’s most uptight people. The (2009) Let It Be liner notes made out that none of these things ever happened, and I suspect that this film will be no different.

  9. Paul Tivy

    May 27, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    They didn’t break up “a few months” after these sessions. The rooftop performance was on January 30th 1969. Their last recording session (albeit without John) was on January 3rd 1970 in between of course, they recorded and released the magnificent Abbey Road album. The actual split didn’t occur until April 10th 1970.

  10. Kaos

    June 5, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    here’s my take:

    Disc 1: Remixed Spector album

    Disc 2: Remastered Spector

    Disc 3: Remixed Glyn Johns

    Disc 4: Original Glyn Johns

    Disc 5: Remastered Glyn Johns

    Disc 6: Remixed McCartney (LIBN)

    Disc 7: Remastered McCartney (LIBN)

    Disc 8: Outtakes Disc A

    Disc 9: Outtakes Disc B

    Disc 10: Outtakes Disc C

    Disc 11/12/13: Twickenham Sessions (Complete)

    Disc 14/15/16: Savile Row, Apple Sessions (complete)

    Blu-Ray/DVD mix of ALL OF IT

    Vinyl Mix

    Cassette Tape mix

    (for a limited time) Lindsay-Hogg film, Jackson Film

    All of it in a large 8″X10″X4″ box

    (Like the signature box)

  11. Earl

    June 17, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    The film is now coming out in 2021.

  12. John S.

    June 20, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    The release has now been delayed almost a year? You have to be kidding. Why don’t they just skip the movie theatre debut and sell the documentary with all the extras on Blu-Ray so we can see it now, since most of us can’t or don’t want get out in crowds? If Apple Corp and the remaining Beatles wait any longer to get this out, there won’t be anyone left alive who will care. Do we really need to have the money grab of a movie theatre presentation? Pre-pandemic, most movie goers were kids. They won’t be lining up to see a movie about some ancient band. And the baby boomers in a movie theatre in August 2021? Maybe, maybe not. Hey, Beatles, why not wait until the 75th anniversary when absolutely no one will be left alive who remotely cares about this?

    • Kirsty Smith

      July 6, 2020 at 1:10 pm

      Sorry, but I’m 29 and I love all things Beatles and always have. It’s so not true to claim that anyone who wasn’t around when the Beatles were together would just disregard them as some ancient band!

    • Kevin

      September 12, 2020 at 1:29 pm

      The biggest purchasers of all re-issues of Beatles albums when remastered in 2009 where not primarily baby boomers. The age group varied between 20 to 60 yo people. Same goes for the anniversary releases. My 27 yo son bought the box set himself and he is a metal head. So, your comment is cods wallop.
      Same goes for the Get Back/Let it Be Documentary movie. Plenty of people interested in musical history young and old will want to see it on the big screen and they realise they will have to wait. Just as we have to wait for every other major movie release this year.

    • DAS

      January 8, 2021 at 3:08 am

      What are you talking about? Every time Beatles’ music gets repackaged in some new way or format, it sells like hotcakes. They are still a license to print money. The biggest selling album of the 2000s decade was One, a compilation of every #1 hit they had, songs which were already freely available in a dizzying array of formats. Yet it still sold over 10 million copies. New generations are constantly discovering the greatness of the Beatles just like I did in 1980, 10 years after they broke up. You seem to care about it since you are whining that you can’t see it yet.

  13. Kevin

    September 12, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    The biggest purchasers of all re-issues of Beatles albums when remastered in 2009 where not primarily baby boomers. The age group varied between 20 to 60 yo people. Same goes for the anniversary releases. My 27 yo son bought the box set himself and he is a metal head. So, your comment is cods wallop.
    Same goes for the Get Back/Let it Be Documentary movie. Plenty of people interested in musical history young and old will want to see it on the big screen and they realise they will have to wait. Just as we have to wait for every other major movie release this year.

  14. Phillip johnson

    October 28, 2020 at 6:35 am

    Listen everyone was sad because Pete best got new hair cut john called him sexy Sadie and the rest of them went quite u know George was still singing old brown shoe while yoko was looking out the window peace and love xxx

  15. Peter Warwick

    March 20, 2021 at 2:06 am

    Looking forward to seeing the film in September. The only answer I can’t find is the running length of the whole film. I hope it is over 2 hours+.

    • John Muir

      April 7, 2021 at 7:41 am

      I don’t know how long it will be, but Peter Jackson movies aren’t notable for how short they are, as a rule.

  16. Shelley

    March 29, 2021 at 1:50 am

    I’m excited about the new film … BUT I’m still fond of the original. I do hope it’ll be re-released along with the new version. I’m worried it won’t be because Ringo and Paul seem so down on it. But it’s a crime it hasn’t been in print since the VHS era.

  17. John Muir

    April 7, 2021 at 7:58 am

    I didn’t much care for the original Let It Be film, because misery isn’t my taste, so I’m looking forward to this and hopefully seeing The Beatles having a good time. I’ve always wondered why the Rooftop Concert hasn’t been featured as much as it should have been and at last it will be. If it contained nothing but that, the movie would be well worth seeing. Incidentally, my 15th birthday was a few weeks after ‘Love Me Do’ was released and as I lived in the UK I heard the record in late 1962 on Radio Luxembourg. I thought the sound was great though I had no idea how big the band would become. I saw their Christmas Show at the Finsbury Park Astoria, Christmas 1963; it was good, but like most shows in those days there were a bunch of other acts on the bill so The Beatles only played for 25 minutes or so. Still, I can say I saw The Beatles!

  18. Win Corr

    May 27, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    The Beatles broke up a whole year and a half after the Get Back project. So many things occurred that splintered the band business-wise that there really was no other choice for it to end the way it did. During this time it was agreed to try to do a live performance of some kind because they enjoyed the Hey Jude live experience so much. When George returned back from hanging out in NY with Bob Dylan and the band and treated like a bandmember he enjoyed how they worked together. So when the idea of rehearsing in ice cold warehouse for 30 days sucked. John was focused on Yoko. Ringo was getting ready to act again. Paul thought that getting the band into shape for a show would be a good thing. It was a good idea. But it didn’t work out that way because they were being pulled in all directions with Apple and were about to lose their publishing behind their back. After Brian Epstein’s death his brother did not want to be part of the Beatles machine and sold his part of it and so did Dick James. The glue came undone to be able to leverage the debt to buy themselves back from themselves. All this and their own company and record label to run.

  19. JON DOER

    July 21, 2021 at 5:34 pm

    I mostly agree – you had to be there! Young or old, love them or hate them, you really need the perspective of the day. I was born in 1949, and had older siblings that drew me into music, early. I think of 50’s music as ’55-65′. And it had become such crap! The Beatles were such a blast of fresh air. My mother thought they ruined my life. I went on a journey my sibs could never understand. Personally, it freed me. Their music was a catalyst. Through them, I became a touring musician. I can’t wait to see this!
    Thank you, Peter, but cringe at the line ‘is going to try to sweeten the past, McCartney style’. I’m sure this is true. But I’ll be happy to see the HAPPY BEATLES. I’ve already seen the downer parts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don't Miss
uDiscover Music - Back To Top