Peter Jackson shares raucous first look at his The Beatles documentary 'Get Back'

Tom Butler
·Senior Editor
·3 min read
(L-R): Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon in THE BEATLES: GET BACK. Photo by Linda McCartney. (© 2020 Apple Corps Ltd. All Rights Reserved.)
(L-R): Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon in THE BEATLES: GET BACK. Photo by Linda McCartney. (© 2020 Apple Corps Ltd. All Rights Reserved.)

Peter Jackson has given The Beatles fans an early Christmas present, sharing a new 5-minute preview of Get Back, his upcoming documentary about the Fab Four on the TheBeatles.com and streaming on Disney+.

The film, pieced together from 56 hours of footage captured in 1969 during the recording of the band’s penultimate album Let It Be, was due for release in 2020 but was delayed to 2021 by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the preview, which you can watch below, the Lord of the Rings director explained he is about half way through editing the film and that – while this sneak peek not a trailer – it should give a taste of what to expect from the film.

Read more: New Beatles documentary will 'bust myths' about fractious recording sessions

“We hope it will bring a smile to everyone’s faces and some much-needed joy at this difficult time,” says Jackson.

What follows is a raucous five-minute blast of Beatles energy, which seems a far cry from the established narrative surrounding the making of Let It Be. Originally filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the footage was edited and released as the Let It Be film in 1970, and it portrayed a fractured band on the verge of break up, casting Paul McCartney as a quasi-villain of the piece.

McCartney, bassist and songwriter in the Beatles, recently told The Sunday Times that the new film proves this was not the truth.

“It was so reaffirming for me,” he told the broadsheet. “Because it proves that my main memory of the Beatles was the joy and the skill.”

“The proof is the footage,” McCartney said. “I bought into the dark side of the Beatles breaking up and thought, ‘Oh God, I’m to blame.’ I knew I wasn’t, but it’s easy when the climate is that way to start thinking so.

John Lennon in the new Get Back footage (YouTube/Disney)
John Lennon in the new Get Back footage (YouTube/Disney)

“But at the back of my mind there was always this idea that it wasn’t like that, but I needed to see proof," McCartney added. "There’s a great photo Linda took, which is my favourite, of me and John working on a song, glowing with joy. This footage is the same. All four of us having a ball.”

The original film not been officially available on home video since the 1980s. Footage from the film appeared in the extensive 1995 documentary series The Beatles Anthology, but a planned DVD release was canned in 2007.

Peter Jackson, director of THE BEATLES: GET BACK. (©Apple Corps Ltd. All Rights Reserved.)
Peter Jackson, director of THE BEATLES: GET BACK. (©Apple Corps Ltd. All Rights Reserved.)

“The film was so controversial when it first came out. When we got halfway through restoring it, we looked at the outtakes and realised: this stuff is still controversial. It raised a lot of old issues,” said Beatles exec Neil Aspinall at the time.

Get Back will also feature the band’s final ever live performance, atop the roof of their Savile Row offices, in full for the first time.

The Beatles: Get Back will open in UK cinemas on 27 August, 2021.