Documentary “The Beatles: Get Back”: an exclusive look at the revealing new film by Peter Jackson
After talking to McCartney in New Zealand, Jackson went to Starr’s in Los Angeles to show him the footage on an iPad (“He was laughing, I was laughing”), and began to correspond with Olivia Harrison, the widow of George, who supported him. behind the project despite documentation of George’s dissatisfaction. “She saw the rooftop gig around the same time as Paul,” says Jackson. “She’s seen him about seven or eight times since. She is very supportive.
But what about Ono? For decades she has been a vigilant and astute guardian of Lennon’s legacy, a powerful and opinionated voice among the four parties that control how Beatles music and history is organized and re-edited. McCartney, in interviews, tried to correct Ono’s story that her late husband was the most important Beatle, the real genius of the group. As he told me in 2015, “Once John was murdered he became the martyr, the Buddy Holly, the character of James Dean. Because of the atrocity it was. A revisionism began to take hold, and Yoko certainly helped it.
It is undeniable that the first cracks in the facade of The Beatles had already appeared at the time of the So be it sessions, and that fans and the press alike viewed Ono as the plot’s pet peeve. For Return, Jackson says Lennon’s son Sean represented Lennon’s estate and watched the rooftop footage in London last year. Ono’s current status isn’t clear, but Jackson says he’s not beholden to anyone’s agenda and that he had control of the final cut of the documentary. “I have [gotten] no edicts, ”he said. “I mean, no one from Apple, none of the Beatles, told me what to do, or none of them said, ‘Don’t show this, don’t show that.’ I did not receive any censorship instructions. I was left completely alone.
Jackson is aware the delicacy of a project in which he questions the creative decisions of another filmmaker. He met Lindsay-Hogg in Los Angeles in 2020 to show how his technology can transform images. “He showed me a comparison of my So be itthe pictures of and its stuff, ”says Lindsay-Hogg, including how McCartney’s hair appeared as a single color block in the original and“ now you can see every strand of hair ”.
Lindsay-Hogg defends her own film as being more “original” and “up to par” than people remember. He also says Apple has asked for its goodwill towards Jackson’s film, which he can’t wait to see, and that he thinks it’s Apple’s intention to possibly reissue. So be it a few months after Jackson Return comes out. (Quentin Tarantino’s Los Angeles movie theater, the New Beverly Cinema, has expressed interest in the screening So be it, if it’s reissued, he says.)
As for Jackson, he developed a deeper admiration for the original, in part because of the circumstances in which Lindsay-Hogg worked, with an increasingly acrimonious group hovering around him. “The Beatles I’m dealing with now are Beatles who can’t remember January 69,” says Jackson. “I mean, they literally can’t. Not really. And I don’t blame them.
In a decisive and crucial creative act, Jackson says he avoided repeating footage from the original film. Even familiar scenes would use alternate camera angles. “One of our mantras is that So be it is a movie, and our movie is a different movie, ”he says,“ and we try not to repeat any footage, with one or two small exceptions where we can’t do anything else. But we try not to step on it So be itthe toes so that it is always a film that has a reason to exist, and our film will be a complement to it.
Fifty-one years after the band broke up, Jackson’s film is possibly the last revealing document we’re likely to see. The fact that he’s also documenting their latest official album gives him bittersweet power. Fans and academics will likely debate whether Return is a history review or correction. But it’s something everyone dreams of: more Beatles. Jackson says, “Paul said to me at one point, ‘Look, this stuff is fantastic, because at the end of the day I’m a Beatles fan.’ “
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