Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated documentary The Beatles: Get Back has been reformatted as a three-day “event”, with three different two hour-long episodes, and will premiere exclusively on streaming service Disney+.
Originally, the documentary was set to be released in theatres on 4 September 2020 as a traditional documentary film, but this was postponed due to COVID-19. First pushed back to August 2021, the project will now be released on November 25, 26, and 27.
By most accounts, it seems that the main reason for the change in formatting is due to the death of footage Jackson has been editing over the past three years. “In many respects, Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s remarkable footage captured multiple storylines,” Jackson explains. “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.”
Now, instead of a greatest hits-esque trimmed down two-hour version, fans will be able to experience an extended six-hour overview of how the sessions for Let It Be truly happened. One of the major draws of the new documentary is to reexamine the dissolving band dynamics that have become legendary. Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 documentary Let It Be, from which The Beatles: Get Back footage is based, is a famously contentious portrait of a band in crisis. With bickering and awkward silences abound, and the cold, vacuous atmosphere of Twickenham Film Studios, where the band rehearsed the new material, is dutifully illustrated in the documentary’s own distant and unnerving presentation.
The Beatles: Get Back is aiming to show a warmer, more intimate side of the band. Although they were breaking up, the preview footage released by Jackson so far includes jokes, smiles, and real enjoyment and robust enthusiasm for the new songs, something that Let It Be most assuredly does not.
Another major draw for the new documentary is the possibility of witnessing the unedited footage of The Beatles final live performance, a 46-minute concert on the rooftop of Apple Studios that featured Billy Preston. The full footage of the event has never been officially released, and the documentary’s new six-hour runtime suggests that the rooftop concert could be a major feature.
The Beatles: Get Back will be released exclusively on Disney+ on November 25, 26, and 27.