More than 50 years later, any Beatles fan knows how the iconic band ended. However, how it reached that end is now shown in greater detail than ever before.
During the 1969 recording sessions for what would be the quartet's final studio album, “Let It Be,” filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg was given extensive access to the group's creative process. It was marked by considerable discord – encompassing George Harrison's departure, which turned out to be temporary at the time, after Ringo Starr quit and returned previously – as the musicians tried to come up with new songs that also would fuel their first live concert in more than two years, a legendary London rooftop performance.
Though the resulting footage yielded a 1970 documentary also titled “Let It Be,” the majority of it has been unseen ... but Oscar-winning “The Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson has restored it and assembled it into a three-part documentary. “The Beatles: Get Back” debuts on Disney+ over three consecutive days starting Thursday with its producers also including Starr, Paul McCartney, Harrison's widow Olivia and John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono Lennon.
Besides the almost 60 hours of visuals that were recorded, Jackson worked with nearly 150 hours of audio material also stored away more than a half-century. He has shaped it all into a history of how the Beatles invented their last collaborative triumph, working with their “backs against the wall” (as John Lennon claimed was how they worked best).
Principally written by Lennon and McCartney (Harrison contributed two selections), the 12 tracks on “Let It Be” include – besides the title tune and “Get Back” – “The Long and Winding Road,” widely deemed to be the Beatles' valedictory song not only for its theme, but also for the fact that it was the last No. 1 hit they had on Billboard magazine's Hot 100, released as a single shortly after they broke up in 1970.
Originally intended for a theatrical release before it was acquired by Disney+, “The Beatles: Get Back” is being accompanied by a 50th-anniversary re-release of the “Let It Be” album, initially planned for last year but delayed (like so many projects) due to the coronavirus pandemic. It offers a new stereo remix overseen by Giles Martin, the son of George Martin, the celebrated music producer so integral to the group's success that he often was called “The Fifth Beatle.”
An amazing thing about the Beatles' legacy is that just when you think you've seen or heard everything available about them, something else tends to surface. “The Beatles: Get Back” reaffirms that, immediately establishing itself as one of the definitive projects about a seminal element of music history.