Even fifty years after their breakup, The Beatles remain one of the most famous and influential rock bands in the world, and have garnered a lasting legacy that is sure to remain strong for many years to come. The fab four— John, Paul, George, and Ringo— have solidified their status as icons of the 20th century, after selling over 600 million records worldwide and garnering numerous awards— including four Grammys. Their story has been told countless times over the years, through biographies, documentaries, bio-dramas, and even through a video game. With that being said, one might ask themselves: What’s left to tell about the fab four?
Director Peter Jackson attempts to answer this question with his upcoming six-hour docuseries about the group entitled: The Beatles: Get Back. The series, which is separated into three parts, splices together over 60 hours of unseen footage as the group prepares for their first live show in two years. Shot in January of 1969, the footage follows the fab four as they write and rehearse fourteen new songs, before performing together for the last time during their unforgettable rooftop concert. The series offers an unprecedented look at the band’s creative process, and allows audience members to catch a glimpse of the genius that went into creating some of the most influential songs of the 20th century. More than anything though, the series will challenge the notion that the friendly camaraderie of the band had dissolved by the end of the 60s, and instead shows The Beatles for what they were— four friends.
The series, which is scheduled to come out Thanksgiving weekend, offers Beatles fans tantalizing footage of the rooftop concert— the only footage of the performance to have been shot in its entirety. It also provides a detailed account of the band’s creative process, as well as a nostalgic look at the social climate of the late 1960s. Director Peter Jackson is the only person to have been given access to these film archives in the last 50 years, according to Deadline.com, and has produced the series with the support of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon, and Olivia Harrison.
Over the course of the last three years, Peter Jackson has been painstakingly combing through the footage, restoring it and editing it. While Jackson may be most famous for his work on The Lord of the Rings movies and The Hobbit series, one of his more recent films involved a similar process of restoration. His 2018 documentary entitled: They Shall Not Grow Old restored never-before-seen footage of World War I soldiers using modern day technology. The end result was a poignant, intimate glimpse of a war that we have only ever seen through grainy, black and white images. The haunting footage brought the war to life in ways that no history textbook has the ability to do so. The film feels more like a time-travel machine than a major motion picture— reminding us all that our not-so-distant past really isn’t that distant.
Fans of this film are hoping that Jackson will bring a similar touch to the fab four, and will provide a more intimate account of the final days of the band. Through harnessing modern day restoration technology, Jackson is able to breathe new life into the footage of our past, and has made it possible for Beatles fans to get closer to the band than ever before. While John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s story may have been told countless times already, it has never been told on their terms. Instead, it was told through messy tabloid headlines and the press. Now, more than fifty years later, the band is able to share with the world the people (and the friendships) behind those headlines.