The Beatles: Get Back
A towering 8-hour documentary broken down into 3 parts that will torment some of you at times and reward most. Watch it on Disney+.
Director Peter Jackson, who previously brought to the screen the astonishingly rewarding “Lord of The Rings” trilogy (2001-2003), dances in that same cinematic stratosphere with this film. The Beatles, who had not performed live in 3 years, got together in January 1969 to spend 3 weeks recording 14 songs.
Jackson discovered 60 hours of footage that had been in storage for 50 years and he converts it into a documentary that allows the audience to watch 4 great musicians interrelate for the last time. You see, firsthand, how McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr created such classics as “Let It Be” and “Get Back” among others. You also see how all 4 were avid smokers.
I was just finishing my senior year in college in 1969 and I was 1-A on the Vietnam draft board despite semi-blindness in one eye. Agony still lingered with many, including me, with the killing of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King the previous year.
Yet a large national crowd found hope and a sense of inspiration from the Beatles and their music. They helped introduce rock and roll into our lives when they emerged in the first half of the 1960’s, and we found a way to love England as never before.
What you see in this film is 4 young friends reuniting to release their last album. They are helped by the addition of the talented Billy Preston.
Harrison temporarily leaves only to return at the boys urging. Lennon appears in nearly every scene with Yoko Ono, sitting side by side as he cultivates musical inspiration.
As noted earlier, there are admittedly slow moments where some of you may feel you are watching a tedious family reunion. However, you Beatle fans, and I’m in that group, will experience the joy of attending a graduate school class centered on your favorite thesis.
Yet the end of the film reaches a crescendo unmatched in any previous movie. You watch our boys perform on the roof top of Apple Studios on Savile Row in London without notice to the public. People began to gather on the street as they hear powerful songs but can’t see the performers.
While police officers are called to shut down the “noise,” the entire performance appears on film. You become entranced by Paul’s beard, John’s long hair swirling in the wind, George’s occasional smile and Ringo’s large, red coat.
The Beatles may have drifted away as a group, with Lennon dying in 1980 and Harrison in 2001, but Peter Jackson captures their genius that created music as enjoyable today as it was 50 years ago.