Director Peter Jackson spoke to Rolling Stone about his upcoming deep dive into the Beatles' 56 hours of unused footage for the 2021 big screen release, The Beatles: Get Back. Jackson's take will spotlight a much happier and lighthearted take than the 1970 Let It Be film, which served as the bleak end chapter of the “Fab Four's” career.
Journalist Rob Sheffield got a preview of the footage and wrote in Rolling Stone's new cover story spotlighting the final days of the Beatles, “Jackson’s Get Back footage promises to be full of warmth and camaraderie: John (Lennon) and Paul (McCartney) with acoustic guitars, busking 'Two Of Us,' when John breaks into 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' to crack up his mate. Paul leading an early romp on 'She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,' with John shouting back at each line. ('Get a job, gob!') The band having a bash at their 1965 oldie 'Help!,' halfway treating it as a joke, but inevitably tapping into the song’s adult despair.”
He added: “You see them write songs that ended up on Abbey Road or solo albums — like when John and Paul whip up the Imagine classic 'Gimme Some Truth.' The mischief on their faces, the eye contact, the collective electricity in the playing — there’s a lot more of the Beatles team spirit than you’d guess from the reputation.”
Peter Jackson admitted that he had mixed feelings delving into what he considered the raw footage of the most unhappy time of the group's career: “As a longtime Beatles fan, I really wasn’t looking forward to it. I thought, 'If what we’ve seen is the stuff they allowed people to see, what are the other 55 hours going to be?’ When I went to Apple, my feet were heavy. I thought, 'I should be excited, but I just dread what I’m about to see.'”
Jackson talked about where the Beatles were at — both personally and creatively — during the January 1969 Let It Be sessions: “They never wanted to repeat themselves — they didn’t want to make Sgt. Pepper 2. There’s even conversations we’ve got on film where they’re discussing, 'Maybe if we went back and became the Cavern Club band again' — becoming the lunchtime bender gang. Because they can’t play a stadium that’s bigger than Shea. They’ve done complex albums. They’ve done simple albums. You get the sense that they really don’t want to break up. That’s the overriding impression I get. They’re a forward-moving band, but they’ve run out of places to go.”
Not long before his 2016 death, Beatles producer George Martin recalled John Lennon being adamant against any bells and whistles to the Let It Be songs: “During the Let It Be stuff, John came to me and said, 'We don't want your crap on this record.' I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'We don't want all this production crap where you overdub voices and you edit and you manipulate (sound).' I said, 'Okay. . . Whaddya wanna do?' (He said) 'We're gonna make (an) honest record of this. We're gonna perform and you record us. Let It Be became torture, because John's premise was to take a song, rehearse it, get it right, and record it. But they never got it right.”