The Beatles: Get Back is a 2021 three-episode documentary miniseries that covers the making of the Beatles' 1970 album Let It Be. Initially conceived as a film, it was originally set to be released September 4, 2020, before being rescheduled to August 27, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2021, it was announced that the film would now be a three-part docuseries released exclusively on Disney+. Part 1 was released on November 25, 2021, with part 2 released on November 26, and part 3 on November 27.
A feature film version titled The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert was released in limited select theaters on January 30, 2022, followed by a full theatrical release on February 11 to 13, 2022.
Part 1: Days 1-7
The Beatles, who are unknowingly at the apex of their careers, have agreed to shoot a television docuseries with Michael Lindsay-Hogg. They have two weeks to write and record 14 new songs for a new album and plan to record it live for an audience. They are given a large soundstage in Twickenham to practice and record. One by one, the Beatles enter for the first time. George Harrison comes in to show off his guitar skills to the crew while John Lennon arrives with his wife Yoko Ono. Ringo Starr comes in to check his drums and finally, Paul McCartney enters as the Beatles come in full to record and play music.
Right away, the Beatles are unsure of the venue; the high ceiling and large space makes it difficult to attune to the acoustics, but they work with what they have. They play songs that will eventually land on the Let It Be album including "Two of Us", "Don't Let Me Down", and "I Me Mine", the latter of which John seems unimpressed by. On the third day, John arrives late, but this allows Paul to begin what will eventually become their biggest hit "Get Back". The crew agree that the Beatles should perform in a Roman amphitheater in North Africa, but the band is unsure of it due to the cost and time it would take to set it up. This has them thinking of possibly performing near home.
The Beatles continue to play away. At one point, George has a minor argument with Paul over his direction, but it is quickly resolved. Paul also invites his wife Linda Eastman to take photos while Ringo brings his wife Maureen. The Beatles ultimately have fun recording and have their roadie Mal Evans provide the hammer to anvil sound for "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". They also record "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" with a noticeably harder sound. Both songs will end up on Abbey Road. They also add the overlay to John's song "Across the Universe" which he had previously recorded. A makeshift recording booth is constructed as this is happening.
On the seventh day, George unexpectedly tells the rest of the band that he is leaving; which at first they do not seem to mind, but it quickly begins to bother them. Everyone gathers to wonder what to do with John jokingly stating to "split his instruments". John, Paul, and Ringo continue to play away with Yoko joining them for fun. The group take a break as the weekend approaches. On the following Sunday, John, Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Linda visit George to talk to him about rejoining the group, but the title card at the end states that the meeting does not go well.
Part 2: Days 8-16
Two days are wasted following the disastorous meeting with George. While the crew is ready to move on without him, John, Paul and Ringo make plans to meet with George again on Wednesday. John and Paul have a private conversation, secretly recorded by Michael, and agree that they cannot do this without George. This time the meeting goes well and they decide to move out of Twickenham and set up base at the new Apple Corp. basement studio in the middle of London. The first day they move in, cameras are not allowed, and George has Glyn Johns fix the audio equipment.
During the day when the Beatles are still getting situated, Michael asks a pair of "apple scruffs" what they would like to see most from the group, to which they answer a live concert. The Beatles are finally able to show off their new and improved studio and start up recording new songs. Most of their time is spent messing around and trying to get the sound to each of their songs right. Additionally, they have decided to push the live show back a week. Paul muses over a newspaper article by Michael Housego who claimed that there was "hostile lethargy" between the group. Ironcially, he reads this out loud just as the group is getting along quite fine.
While trying to record the track "Get Back", the Beatles run into a problem. Most of the songs on their new album are written to feature more than four instruments playing. Not wanting to overlay and instead record live, they consider bringing someone in to play the electric piano. By coincidence, their good friend Billy Preston has come to visit and he happily decides to help complete their music. However, he also needs to finish performing a live show, but promises to be there to help record the rest of it. John pleasingly considers him their "Fifth Beatle".
Learning that the second venue they chose, Primrose Hill, will not be a suitable place to record the show, Michael and Glyn come up with another venue off the cuff: the rooftop of their own building. The Beatles immediately fall in love with the idea, despite the possibility of getting arrested for disturing the peace and not knowing if the roof can take the weight of their instruments. After recording some riffs on the song "Let It Be", the Beatles decide to retire for the day. They now only have four more days to do the live show.
Part 3: Days 17-22
Following the new deadline, the Beatles hastily get to work practicing and recording whatever they can for the new LP. In the days leading up to their rooftop performance, Ringo introduces George to the opening notes he has to what will eventually become "Octopus' Garden". Sometime later, George makes his contribution "Something" and the band practices it, though they have trouble trying to get the lyrics just right. With so much time riding on them, they are unsure about performing on the roof as they have not played live in three years.
Just two days before the rooftop performance, weather suddenly forces them to push it back by a day. This allows the Beatles to put more effort into recording their material of which they have now grown accustomed to. Their music is now energetic and their comradery is very much apparent. At one point, Paul brings in Linda and her daughter Heather who plays around with the Beatles. The day before the big rooftop performance, the Beatles speak with Michael about it and agree that they are nervous and unsure about the fallout that is most likely to occur. Knowing that they do not have the full fourteen songs as promised, they decide to solely focus on the ones that they have down by heart.
The day comes; Michael sets up ten cameras: five on the roof, one at the adjacent building across the street, three on the street, and a hidden one in the receptionist's lobby. The Beatles immediately begin to play and catch everyone's attention. The majority of the audience is favorable, though there are some detractors who are upset about their noise making. The Beatles play through "Get Back" (3 takes), "Don't Let Me Down" (2 takes), "I've Got a Feeling" (2 takes), "One After 909" and "Dig a Pony". The police are eventually called in to help resolve the issue, but the crew stall them until they are finished recording, leading to them growing impatient.
The Beatles finally finish recording with John exclaiming, "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition!" This was their final live performance. Everyone goes down to the recording room to hear the tapes. Everyone agrees that they will continue to record the rest of the songs like normal within the studio. Michael decides to film the Beatles recording for one final day as they go through their sets. Together they wind up recording the take of "Let It Be" that will eventually end up on the final album.
- John Lennon - Member and co-founder of the Beatles. (vocals, guitars, keyboards, harmonica, bass)
- Paul McCartney - Member and co-founder of the Beatles. (vocals, bass, guitars, keyboards, drums)
- George Harrison - Member of the Beatles. (guitars, vocals, sitar, keyboards, bass)
- Ringo Starr - Member of the Beatles. (drums, percussion, vocals)
- Yoko Ono - John's wife and a musician and artist.
- Linda Eastman - Paul's girlfriend and a photographer and musician.
- George Martin - The Beatles' record producer and arranger.
- Billy Preston - R&B musician and the Beatles' friend. (vocals, keyboards)
- Heather McCartney - Linda's daughter from a previous relationship.
- Mal Evans - The Beatles' road manager.
- Glyn Johns - The Beatles' recording engineer.
- Michael Lindsay-Hogg - Filmmaker and director of the project.
- Pattie Boyd - George's then wife.
- Maureen Cox - Ringo's then wife.
- Peter Sellers (guest appearance) - Actor friend of the Beatles.
The project was announced on 30 January 2019, the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles' rooftop concert. The Beatles: Get Back employs the techniques developed for Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old to transform the footage with modern production techniques. Over 55 hours of footage and 140 hours of audio from the original project were made available to Jackson's team, and it will include the full 42-minute rooftop concert. In reference to the long-reported acrimony surrounding the original Get Back project, Jackson wrote in a press statement that he was "relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth ... Sure, there's moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with."
The film was created with cooperation from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and the widows of John Lennon (Yoko Ono) and George Harrison (Olivia Harrison). In a news release, McCartney said: "I am really happy that Peter has delved into our archives to make a film that shows the truth about the Beatles recording together", while Starr echoed: "There was hours and hours of us just laughing and playing music, not at all like the Let It Be film that came out [in 1970]. There was a lot of joy and I think Peter will show that."
On 11 March 2020, The Walt Disney Studios announced they had acquired the worldwide distribution rights to Jackson's documentary, now titled The Beatles: Get Back. It was initially set to be released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on 4 September 2020 in the United States and Canada, with a global release to follow. On 12 June 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film's release was pushed back to 27 August 2021.
On 17 June 2021, it was announced that The Beatles: Get Back would be released as a three-part documentary series on Disney+ on 25, 26 and 27 November 2021, with each episode being about two hours in length.
The Beatles: Get Back — The Rooftop Concert
A film of the rooftop concert from the documentary was released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in select IMAX theatres on 30 January 2022, with a global theatrical release from 11 to 13 February 2022. The 30 January presentation was accompanied by a live-streamed Q&A with Peter Jackson. In response to one question during the Q&A, Jackson stated that there was still film containing hours of restored but unreleased footage and interviews, and that he was hoping an extended-cut version might be released someday; he suggested fans could try contacting Disney and Apple to express their interest. The film release grossed approximately $500,000 across 68 locations.
- This is the first Disney-branded release to feature strong profanity, as several uncensored uses of "f--k" are used throughout the documentary. Peter Jackson had to convince Disney to allow them to keep the swearing in as they were technically not used in an aggressive or sexual way.
- In Part 1, following George leaving and John showing little interest and not arriving for the sessions, Paul, accompanied by Ringo and the crew, solemnly muses at the thought of his bandmates permanently leaving and mutters, "...and then there were two," causing him to tear up.
- At this point in time, the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein had passed away; forcing the group to manage themselves. They were considering getting The Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein to represent them. During the documentary Michael Lindsay-Hogg tells Paul that he does not trust him. Years later, Klein would be indicted by the IRS for tax fraud.
- As the group questions the idea of traveling abroad, they joke that Ringo would probably be against it, before remarking that Jimmie Nicol would be for it. Jimmie briefly replaced Ringo during their early days of touring when he was hit with an illness.
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