After years of planning, restoring 60 hours of video (and 150 hours of audio), abandoning a theatrical release, and instead producing a three-part, eight-hour docuseries, Peter Jackson finally released The Beatles: Get Back on Disney+ in November 2021. But, now that the eye-opening and transfixing documentary series about the band’s attempt to write and record 14 new songs before playing their first concert in three years has ended, you might be searching for other rock and roll documentaries to check out that either focus on The Beatles (and the individuals who made up the group), their contemporaries, or capture some of the same feelings as Get Back.
If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place, as we have put together a list of movies and series to watch in case eight hours of Beatlemania wasn’t enough.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years (Hulu)
As its title suggests, Ron Howard’s 2016 amazing music documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years turns its focus to the the rock outfit’s astronomical rise to the fame in the early 1960s, a craze forever known as “Beatlemania.” Through archival footage of the band off the stage, some of their most memorable performances, and interviews with surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Howard’s Hulu exclusive helps paint a beautiful picture of how The Beatles became the biggest band of all time.
Why it’s worth checking out: This documentary is a must for any Beatles fan, especially those who just wrapped up The Beatles: Get Back. The prologue of Peter Jackson’s 2021 Disney+ docuseries briefly summarizes the events that preceded the group’s decision to become a studio-only band, but this nearly two-hour documentary takes a more thorough look at Beatlemania and its impact on pop culture and society as a whole.
McCartney 3,2,1 (Hulu)
Over the course of six episodes, Paul McCartney discusses his life and career with famed music producer Rick Rubin on McCartney 3, 2, 1. This stripped-down docuseries is a treasure trove of information about McCartney’s formative years, his experiences with The Beatles, and his successful career that followed after the band’s 1970 breakup.
Why it’s worth checking out: The Beatles: Get Back captures Paul McCartney in the middle of one of his most prolific periods and shows the songwriter put together several of his most iconic tracks. If you were watching Peter Jackson’s docuseries and wanted to know how McCartney got to that point or what he did after, McCartney 3, 2, 1 is the way to go, with its in-depth conversations and revelations.
The Last Waltz (Tubi)
Martin Scorsese’s 1978 concert film The Last Waltz captures what was supposed to be the final concert by Canadian-American rock and roll group, The Band, before their split. Filmed at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day 1976, the movie shows the beloved group playing their biggest hits while also being joined by some of their influences, contemporaries, and friends, including Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, and Neil Young.
Why it’s worth checking out: Often regarded as one of the best concert films of all time, The Last Waltz captures a beautiful moment at the end of The Band’s original run and serves as a culmination of the group’s career up to that point. If you were a fan of the climatic rooftop concert in The Beatles: Get Back, you should really check out this seminal experience.
George Harrison: Living In The Material World (HBO Max)
Released 10 years after the late Beatles' November 2001 death, George Harrison: Living in the Material World takes a look at the personal, professional, and spiritual life of the influential musician. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the two-part HBO documentary follows Harrison from his childhood, through the formation of The Beatles, in the middle of Beatlemania, the final years of the band’s existence, and what followed after the split. More importantly, the documentary film explores Harrison’s spiritual journey and how his many visits to India forever changed his life.
Why it’s worth checking out: Throughout The Beatles: Get Back, it seems like George Harrison is preparing for what comes next in his journey (the documentary even shows Harrison piecing together what would become the title track of his triple-album All Things Must Pass) and begins to expand his musicianship. George Harrison: Living in the Material World is a perfect companion piece as it focuses more on what made “the quiet Beatle” tick, and explores his aspirations.
Heartworn Highways (Showtime)
The 1976 country music documentary, Heartworn Highways, offers an in-depth look at the lives and creative processes of some of the era’s most notable stars in the world of “Outlaw Country.” Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, David Allan Coe, and even a 17-year-old Steve Earle pop up throughout this beautiful, poignant, and oftentimes hilarious exploration of the unsung heroes of country music.
Why it’s worth checking out: Very much like Peter Jackson with The Beatles: Get Back, director James Szalapski takes a fly-on-the-wall approach with Heartworn Highways in that he doesn’t include any narration or interviews, but instead lets the art and artists speak for themselves. There are few music documentaries that are as effective as this one.
When You're Strange (Prime Video)
Tom DiCillo’s 2009 documentary When You’re Strange offers an intense and lovingly crafted exploration of the quick rise and fall of The Doors and its charismatic lead singer, Jim Morrison. Through archival footage of the band’s concerts, TV appearances, Morrison’s arrest, and rarely seen footage, along with narration by Johnny Depp, the documentary is utterly fascinating.
Why it’s worth checking out: Although When You’re Strange takes a much different approach than The Beatles: Get Back, the two documentaries are similar in the sense that they capture just how important each band was during the 1960s and helps you better understand why both have since gone down as two of the biggest rock groups of all time.
John And Yoko: Above Us Only Sky (Netflix)
The 2018 documentary John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky accomplishes two things: 1) it takes a deep dive into the creation of the couple’s 1971 album Imagine, and 2) explores the pair’s love and devotion in one the most pivotal periods of the former Beatle’s life and career. Through footage of the recording sessions and Lennon and Ono’s day-to-day lives (some of which has never been seen before), as well as interviews with the people who were there, the documentary does a fantastic job of providing context for the famous album.
Why it’s worth checking out: Michael Epstein’s John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky is one of the best options you can choose from when you’re looking to see what came next for John Lennon after the dissolution of The Beatles in 1970, and all the great footage makes it even better.
Long Strange Trip (Prime Video)
Over the course of six episodes, the 2017 series Long Strange Trip documents the history and legacy of The Grateful Dead and how the band, and its members, created an entirely new subculture. Directed by Amir Bar-Lev, this intensive retrospective is full of interviews from the surviving members of the band, their friends and family, and just a handful of the people they inspired all those years ago.
Why it’s worth checking out: Much like The Beatles: Get Back, Long Strange Trip focuses on a band that managed to become more than just a musical group and instead became a cultural phenomenon, one larger than anyone would have ever expected.
Gimme Shelter (HBO Max)
The 1970 documentary Gimme Shelter follows The Rolling Stones on their 1969 tour, a series of concerts that included the infamous Altamont Free Concert where a fan was killed during a scuffle with security (a.k.a., The Hells Angels). Over the course of the documentary, you see the concert from its early planning stages all the way to the chaos that unfolded on the crowded speedway in December 1969.
Why it’s worth checking out: Not only is Gimme Shelter one of the most well-regarded music documentaries ever released, it also offers a look at society and culture in the final days of the 1960s, much like The Beatles: Get Out.
They Shall Not Grow Old (Tubi)
Peter Jackson’s 2018 documentary They Shall Not Grow Old combines restored footage from World War I and combines it with recordings of veterans sharing their experiences during the “war to end all wars.”
Why it’s worth checking out: Prior to restoring 60 hours of video for The Beatles: Get Back, Peter Jackson went through nearly 100 hours of black-and-white footage from World War I, digitized it, cleaned it up, and colorized it to make it look like it was shot a day ago and not 100 years earlier. Honestly, They Shall Not Grow Old is an absolute achievement and is a must watch.
Each of these documentaries would make for a perfect double-feature with The Beatles: Get Back and have at least one thing in common with Peter Jackson's groundbreaking docuseries. And, if you're looking for even more stuff to watch, check out our list of the best movies on Disney+.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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