Where to start with The Beatles, the reputed best band of all time? The 1960s, or the decade of musical reinvention where some of the best artists of all time inaugurated their legendary careers: The Rolling Stones, Big Brother, and the Holding Company who later introduced the world to Janis Joplin, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Monkees, etc. However, one band stood out amongst them all. The visionary quartet of John, George, Paul, and Ringo: The Beatles. Every single record is a classic well-cherished by many music fans worldwide– Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, A Hard Day’s Night, or even The Magical Mystery Tour.
Evolving their style along with each record, yet still, there came a time of arrant anxiety and creative frustration: the Get Back/Let it Be sessions. With over 150 hours’ worth of footage, Peter Jackson’s “documentary about a documentary” shows us the sessions behind what would later be their last release, Let it Be (the title of which was later changed from Get Back). It wasn’t the last album they recorded, because that was Abbey Road. The three episodes of the doc-epic are divided into three different segments of the sessions. The frustration at Twickenham, getting the band back together while working things out, and the final days at Apple studios leading to their last live performance.
Although it doesn’t show the exact instance in which The Beatles broke up because watching such a scene would be heartbreaking, Jackson clearly states that this is the beginning of the end for the band. So, what leads to their breakup? This sparks the question once again and incites many conversations from die-hard fans. Was it Yoko Ono’s involvement? Was it the poor management of the company that held the rights to their songs? It is still a bit difficult to say, yet the doc has a dark atmosphere in-between the lively jam sessions about the disbandment of the Fab Four. Nevertheless, it is interesting what Jackson did with this behemoth, showing camaraderie through the hard times of experimentation and their organization as a band as well as the creative mechanics going into each track.
I couldn’t name many artists in today’s time who can do such things– pull so many ideas from a hat and make them work as a great piece of music in only 22 days.. From the creation of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” to “Dig a Pony”, The Beatles: Get Back takes us inside Twickenham Film Studios and Apple Studios as if we were trespassers. We are listening to their private conversations, seeing geniuses at work, and even joining them on-stage for their last live performance at the rooftop of their own Apple Studios. We hear discussions regarding Yoko Ono and John’s relationship, Harrisons’ departure, and McCartney trying to motivate the group.
Although there is bitterness during the meetings, none of the members are tagged as a villain or a hero during these few weeks, which was my worry when they first announced the docu-series. When Let it Be was released a month after their breakup, it was considered one of the most controversial rock albums in history. After Phil Spector made many changes, McCartney was left unhappy, releasing Let it Be… Naked in 2003, which had the stripped-down style that he had visioned. With all that said, I conclude by saying that The Beatles: Get Back is an extraordinary documentary about the band’s time of striving through resentment that only a director of Peter Jackson’s repertoire could have managed.