January 30, 2019
Dozens of hours of unseen Beatles footage which show the behind the scenes tensions of recording album Let it Be are to be made into a documentary by Sir Peter Jackson.
Filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson announces new documentary on the Beatles
The Lord of the Rings film maker is already working on 55 hours of never-released footage of the Beatles shot in London by British director Michael Edward Lindsay-Hogg in January 1969 for the 1970 film Let It Be.
Sir Peter previously restored and brought to life in colour First World War footage in They Shall Not Grow Old.
He will be working with some of same production team on the new project and is expected to use many of the same techniques.
The Beatles rarely allowed filmmakers to record them in the studio, and experts say that this “is the only footage of any note that documents them at work in the studio".
“This movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamed about,” Jackson said in a statement. “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.”
The footage was originally intended for a TV special, but was transformed into a feature film, amid reports that the band were unhappy during the recording of the album. George Harrison later described the time as “the low of all-time”.
The film, which went on to win an Oscar, climaxed with The Beatles' legendary performance on the roof of record label Apple's Savile Row London office, which took place 50 years ago.
Jackson said that the footage was "very different" to the myth surrounding the recording sessions, which came just over a year before Sir Paul McCartney announced he was leaving the group in April 1970.
He said: “I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” Jackson said. “Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating – it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate.”
The original film was shot in 16mm and was not known for its image quality, prompting speculation that Jackson may use of the same techniques on the footage that he used for his highly acclaimed First World War documentary, which has been nominated for a BAFTA for best documentary.
The as-yet unnamed new film, which is currently in production, is being made with the co-operation of Sir Paul, Sir Ringo Starr, and John Lennon and Harrison's widows, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.
Jackson’s involvement comes as a surprise, but McCartney teased the nature of the project in a radio interview last year. “I think there may be a new version of [Let It Be],” he said. “The original movie came out and it was really sort of about the break-up of the Beatles. And so for me, it was a little sad, the movie. But I know people are looking at the … 56 hours of footage. And someone was talking the other day to me and said (that) the overall feeling is very joyous and very uplifting. It’s like a bunch of guys making music and enjoying it, you know.”
A restored version of Lindsay-Hogg’s Let It Be will also be released following “the release of this new film,” Apple said.
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