On January 30, 1969, the iconic rock and roll outfit The Beatles took to the roof of Apple Records headquarters in London, England, and gave passersby a one-of-a-kind experience when they performed what would be their final live performance. What is now known as The Beatles’ Rooftop Concert has gone down as one of the most iconic moments of 20th Century pop culture more than 50 years later. This concert, however, is just a small part of the six-hour Peter Jackson documentary series The Beatles: Get Back, a soon-to-be-released intimate look at the final days of the seminal rock and roll band.
But while there are countless diehard Beatles fans who have spent the past few years diving through everything related to to Get Back, others might not be entirely caught up to speed on what sounds like one of the most important rock and roll documentaries since release of The Last Waltz or Gimme Shelter and why it went from a theatrically-released documentary to a sprawling three-part, six-hour series exclusive to Disney+.
The Beatles: Get Back Will Be Released As A Three-Part Disney+ Series Starting November 25, 2021
In June 2021, Disney announced that instead of heading to theaters August 27, Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back will instead premiere on Disney+ as a six-hour docuseries split up into three sections that will debut November 25, November 26, and November 27, 2021. And while it is a bummer we won’t get to see the “Fab Four” in all their glory on the big screen at the end of the summer, an extended docuseries showing even more footage of the band's twilight years is not the worst thing that can happen. Talk about a great way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with a house full of Beatles fans watching one of my consequential recording sessions of all time.
The Beatles: Get Back Follows The Fab Four During A Pivotal January 1969 Recording Session
The Beatles: Get Back, which is being released by Walt Disney Studios, isn’t your standard rock and roll documentary and takes more of a “fly on the wall” approach to the way it documents the “Fab Four” — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — during a pivotal nearly monthlong January 1969 recording session, including the writing and rehearsing of 14 new songs, some of which would go on to be featured on the two final studios albums from the legendary rock and roll outfit: Abbey Road and Let It Be. These intimate sessions, featuring the recording of the final songs written by the songwriting powerhouse will shed new light on the band’s final days.
The Beatles: Get Back Became A Docuseries Due To The Wealth Of Footage Peter Jackson Restored
The footage featured throughout The Beatles: Get Back was compiled from 60 hours of never-before-scene footage that was captured by Michael Lindsay-Hogg who was sitting in with the band while putting together a documentary of his own, 1970’s Let It Be. According to Walt Disney Studios, this rare video footage (which has been restored) is combined with over 150 hours of unheard audio taken directly from the recording sessions, conversations, and that January 1969 rooftop concert which will be focal point of the upcoming film. This wealth of footage, and the story it tells, helped Jackson come to the decision to present an expanded version of what was supposed to be a feature-length film:
In many respects, Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s remarkable footage captured multiple storylines. The story of friends and of individuals. It is the story of human frailties and of a divine partnership. It is a detailed account of the creative process, with the crafting of iconic songs under pressure, set amid the social climate of early 1969. But it’s not nostalgia - it’s raw, honest, and human. Over six hours, you’ll get to know The Beatles with an intimacy that you never thought possible … I’m very grateful to The Beatles, Apple Corps and Disney for allowing me to present this story in exactly the way it should be told. I’ve been immersed in this project for nearly three years, and I’m very excited that audiences around the world will finally be able to see it.
The decision to present The Beatles: Get Back as a six-hour series is the right call, especially since the iconic rooftop concert is approximately 42 minutes in length, which would have taken up a considerable amount of time of a standard feature-length documentary.
The Beatles: Get Back Is The First Time The Iconic Rooftop Concert Has Been Shown In Its Entirety
The Beatles’ historic January 30, 1969 concert has been featured in everything from the 1995 documentary series The Beatles Anthology to videos found on YouTube, but the upcoming Peter Jackson docuseries will be the first time it has ever been shown in its entirety. According Disney, the concert, and the band’s decision to hold their first live performance since they stopped touring two years earlier, will be a major part of The Beatles: Get Back. High above London’s Savile Row, this landmark moment in rock and roll history will be shown like never before in brilliantly restored video and audio.
Peter Jackson Restored Footage For The Beatles: Get Back With The Same Technology He Used For They Shall Not Grow Old
Those who have seen Peter Jackson’s 2018 World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old are all too familiar with the technology that was used to restore and bring new life to 100-year-old video footage of British soldiers during the Great War. That same technology, which digitized, refined, colored, and converted the old film stock to 4K quality is also being used by Jackson and the team at Park Road Post, per Collider. Early footage that has been shown almost looks as if it was captured on high-definition cameras in the 21st Century opposed to January 1969.
Peter Jackson Has Said The Beatles: Get Back Changes The Narrative Of The Band’s Final Days
For decades now, the story has gone that the final days of The Beatles’ existence were filled with drama, in-fighting, and a breakdown of communication. And while some of that may very well be true, Peter Jackson has said The Beatles: Get Back shows a different side of the band and its four members, as he explained in a statement upon the planned documentary’s reveal (via NPR):
I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth. After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it's simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. 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.
It will be interesting to see how The Beatles: Get Back sheds new light on the mood of the band just as they were in the final stretch of their unparalleled run at the top of the music world, especially if it helps break down the prevailing narrative that has followed the band’s break up all these years.
Disney Released A Sneak Peak For The Beatles: Get Back In December 2020
In December 2020 — three months after the documentary’s original release date had come and gone — Disney and The Beatles official YouTube channel shared a sneak peak for The Beatles: Get Back that showed the band in various stages of the writing and recording of the titular track. The footage, which looks and sounds absolutely amazing, shows John, Paul, George, and Ringo acting less like the biggest band of their era and more like four friends falling in love with music again.
While we wait for The Beatles: Get Back to debut on Disney+ over Thanksgiving weekend, there are plenty of superb music documentaries to check out or revisit for the 100th time (not judging). And if you want the latest on what else is coming out in the meantime, check out CinemaBlend’s list of all the 2021 movie premiere dates.