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(Credit: Get Back / Disney)


Peter Jackson on 'The Beatles: Get Back' runtime: "People have got to see this"

If you spent this past Thanksgiving attached to your Disney Plus account and pouring over the early eight-hour long cut of The Beatles: Get Back, you might have been wondering if including every yawn and cigarette break was necessary for the series’ success. This has become the main point of conjecture around the project: it’s fantastic, but it’s also fantastically long.

Director Peter Jackson recently discussed the project’s 468 minute running time with the NME and defended the extended length of the cut. “I’d like to say that I didn’t really leave out anything that I thought was important,” he said, “Which is why the duration has crept up to what it is today.”

“I felt acutely – and this is the Beatles fan part of me kicking in – anything I don’t include in this movie might go back in the vault for another 50 years. I was seeing and hearing these amazing moments. I thought: ‘God, people have got to see this. This is great. They have to see this.’”

In its original form, The Beatles: Get Back was intended to be a two-hour film, but with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jackson was granted an extended amount of time with which to edit the material. It was then that he made the decision to extend to original concept into three feature-length episodes, including featuring the entirety of the band’s January 30th rooftop performance.

Jackson sighted the song ‘Dig It’ as an example of both providing an extended in-depth look into the inner workings of The Beatles while still trimming down the excess material.

“One of the legendary Beatles things is the full length ‘Dig It’. On the Let It Be album there’s only 40, 50 seconds of ‘Dig It’, which was like an improvised song that they do,” Jackson continued. “The Beatles fans all know that the original has been on bootlegs as well. We trimmed it to get it down to four minutes or something because the original is 12 or 13 minutes long… So you get a lot more than you do on the ‘Let It Be’ album.”

It was also recently revealed that Jackson successfully convinced Disney executives to allow the band’s casual swearing to be preserved without censorship in the final cut. The Beatles: Get Back is one of the first productions under Disney’s purview that contained extensive profanity.

“Paul describes it as being very raw,” Jackson explained. “He said to me: ‘That is a very accurate portrayal of how we were then.’ Ringo said: ‘It’s truthful.’ The truthfulness of it is important to them. They don’t want a whitewash. They don’t want it to be sanitised. Disney wanted to remove all the swearing and Ringo, Paul and Olivia said: ‘That’s how we spoke. That’s how we talked. That’s how we want the world to see us.’”