Peter Jackson documentary sheds new light on last days of The Beatles
Los Angeles, Nov 15 (EFE).- The accepted history of The Beatles holds that the recording sessions for what would prove to be their last album were filled with acrimony and marked the beginning of the end for the Fab Four, but Peter Jackson’s documentary about the making of “Let It Be” offers a different perspective.
“They had no intention of breaking up,” the auteur behind “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy told Efe in a telephone interview from his home in New Zealand.
Drawn from more than 130 hours of never-before-seen footage, Jackson’s three-part “The Beatles: Get Back,” will begin airing Nov. 25 on Disney+.
The filmmaker recalled that when the Beatles assembled in January 1969 after a two-year hiatus, the plan was to write and rehearse 14 new songs which they would then introduce in a live television special.
And the idea included filming the composing and rehearsal process.
“As it turns out, the whole project derails,” Jackson explained. “As George (Harrison) walks out they abandon the idea of the TV show. They get back together in the studio in London … to do the songs for an album, not a TV show.”
A small part of the footage made its way into Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s documentary “Let It Be,” released in May 1970, a month after the album of the same name hit record stores.
With dozens of hours of film at his disposal, the initial challenge for Jackson was deciding what was most important, but after viewing the footage, “it really became very obvious.”
“So I said ‘we’ll just tell the story,'” Jackson told Efe. Let the story unfold as it actually happened. I didn’t want it to be a retrospective thing. I didn’t want to interview anybody today.”
When asked if the breakup of the Beatles was inevitable by the time of the “Let It Be” sessions, the director was categorical “they had no intention of breaking up.”
“They were trying to work out what it means to be The Beatles in 1969, what they can do. And they wanted to go back out and do some more live performances, which was hard for them because they’re so famous. They didn’t want to go on tours, they didn’t want to do Shea Stadium again with 55,000 people. They wanted to perform before 200 or 300 people, but how do you do that?”
“So in a way there’s a bit of a sweet quality to it that they’re trying to figure out how to be Beatles in 1969,” Jackson said.
The director said that the truism about the sessions having precipitated the dissolution of the band is due in part to timing.
A month before the premiere of the “Let It Be” documentary, The Beatles had announced their breakup.
“‘Let It Be’ comes out and everybody sees ‘Let It Be’ having just read the headlines that The Beatles have broken up assuming that they’re watching a documentary about the band breaking up,” Jackson said.
Opinions, including those of The Beatles themselves, were shaped by “memories of the movie ‘Let It Be,’ not the actual event that happened in January 1969 where they’re weren’t going to be breaking up,” the filmmaker said.
“I’m not setting out with a deliberate agenda. I’m not setting out to say I’m going to use this footage to try to warp history or change history. I’m simply trying to show what happened day-by-day in this period of time,” he told Efe.
“And I’ve shown it to Ringo (Starr) and Paul (McCartney) and others and they all realize it now that it’s not quite what they remembered. “They remembered ‘Let It Be’ from April 1970, they don’t remember the January 1969 sessions.”
Both Starr and McCartney “seemed to be happy” with the series, Jackson said.
“I was expecting notes where they said ‘the bit where you’ve got me saying this, cut it out.’ I was expecting them to ask me to take stuff out of the film and I didn’t get a single note,” the director said.