Illustration by Shamma Almansoori.

Get Back to The Beatles’ most turbulent times, reimagined

In 1970, The Beatles released “Let It Be,” a film about their album “Get Back.” The film was plagued by troubles of its own as well as perceptions of strife among the band. 51 years on, Peter Jackson’s 2021 remake of the film turns this on its head.

Nov 28, 2021

This is how Paul Mccartney remembered the Let It Be film. 51 years later, multi-award winning director Peter Jackson changes this vision of the last movie recorded by the Fab Four.
In 1970, the film Let It Be was released, accompanied by an album of the same name. This two-hour long documentary showed the Fab Four working on what was supposed to be their 12th studio album “Get Back” (later renamed Let It Be). This film received strong criticism for its problems with continuity, poor sound and image quality.
51 years later, cineaste Peter Jackson — better known for his work on The Lord Of The Rings — had access to more than 56 hours of never-before-seen footage of the “Get Back sessions”. Excited to show this to the world, he created his own version of the documentary, using new technologies and artificial intelligence to improve the image and the sound of the film. After this long winding road to production, the new Get Back film is now available on the streaming platform Disney+.
After the tragic, unexpected death of their manager Brian Epstein in 1967, The Beatles were never the same. Trying to keep the band united, bassist and composer Paul McCartney decided to make a movie and record a few new songs. The result was Magical Mystery Tour, a disastrous film, lambasted for being experimental nonsense. Even if today it is remembered as a cult film, in its time Paul McCartney had to apologize for the quality of the project. But it worked: it kept the band together.
The following year, after their trip to India, the band recorded the album The Beatles (better known as The White Album). This double LP became one of the most influential albums of all time, dubbed the 29th greatest album by Rolling Stone magazine.
What was the cost of its grandiosity? The relationship between the band members was at its worst; drummer Ringo Starr, feeling excluded, left the band and their long-time producer George Martin did the same a few weeks later.
Concerned again about the band’s future, Paul McCartney decided to involve the band in their most ambitious project yet. They were going to make another movie, this time a documentary of their workflow. This film would be accompanied by an album and a live show. That’s right, the Fab Four were back, back to the stage, where they once bellowed.
But the reality is that The Beatles were trying to go back to their beginnings; the show was a reminder of their golden days of youth and the overall atmosphere was like an attempt to forget who they were, forget this whole idea of them being the biggest celebrities in the world. They wanted to be a rock band again, be just four friends making music again, but were they successful?
The new Get Back film, as well as the Let It Be movie, follows The Beatles in the making of their new album. The recordings began in January 1969 at the Twickenham Film Studios and so did many issues within the band. They had to adapt their schedule to record during the mornings and they lost the intimacy they had at their Abbey Road studio because they were now being filmed all day. Both John Lennon and George Harrison felt uncomfortable in front of the cameras and even Mccartney was self-conscious about it.
In contrast to its homolog of 1970, 2021’s Get Back tries to bring a new perspective to the sessions. For every Beatles fan, these sessions are remembered as a pain for the band, where they were fighting each other constantly. Some famous fights in the band occurred during these sessions: “Ok well, I don’t mind. I’ll play, you know, whatever you want me to play or I won’t play at all if you don’t want me to play. Whatever that is that will please you, I’ll do it” said a frustrated George Harrison during the sessions.
Peter Jackson told the American program 60 Minutes that he wanted to portray these sessions more accurately and he does. Paul Mccartney reviewed the documentary saying “I kinda got into this idea that me and John were rivals [...] but you see the film and it’s like thank god it’s not true.”
On another note, if you are a fan of technology and artificial intelligence, this film will be of great interest. Peter Jackson is famous for his capacity to create special effects; images from his trilogy of the Lord Of The Rings are impressive even 20 years after its release. His work in Get Back is equally impressive: first, he colorizes the images in a very sharp way, giving the audience the impression that the film might have been recorded in the 21st century when the original footage was considered of questionable quality even during the ‘60s.
If his work editing the image was impressive, his achievements in the sound department have no precedent. The original audio tapes were recorded in mono, which means that every instrument, conversation or random sound were all mixed on the same tape, making it impossible to edit. Thanks to artificial intelligence, Jackson was able to separate each instrument and voice into independent tracks, which means that the audio now sounds sharper and we have the real sensation of being surrounded by The Beatles and their team. He said, "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.”
Get Back (2021) is a celebration of The Beatles’ legacy, trying to show a new face of their album Let It Be, which is often seen as a dramatic and terrible experience for all the members of the band. Thanks to technology, director Peter Jackson was finally able to give us a film with the same quality as The Beatles’ music.
Bruno Juarez is a Staff Writer. Email him at
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