4 highlights of Get Back, Beatles documentary premiering today on Disney+

That the Beatles’ last years weren’t so harmonious, that even the most ardent Beatlemaniacs tend to admit. Enter album releases Abbey Road, Let it Be and the end of the band, there was a period marked by disagreements and small hiatuses.

Images and reports from the time show the wear and tear of coexistence and the frustration of the musicians trying to produce something as grandiose as the first years of their career – and suggest an imminent divorce.

But Get Back, the new Beatles documentary now available on Disney+, strives to show just the opposite.

The images used in the feature were extracted from raw material of over 56 hours, captured for almost a month in January 1969. The idea was that the tapes would become a documentary to promote the band’s return after three years away from the stage.

But the material, made into a movie released in 1970, became more a sad postlude to the Beatles’ demise than an announcement of a triumphant return.

Peter Jackson (director of Lord of the Rings) and card-carrying beatlemaniac took four years to edit and restore footage from the time. The result was a series of almost 8 hours, divided into three episodes. The first one was released on Disney+ this Thursday (25), and there are two more coming out of the oven in the next few days: the second debuts on Friday and the last one on Saturday.

O Gizmodo Brazil was invited to the exhibition of a condensed version of the documentary, with a duration of 1h40. This “director’s cut” shows the Liverpool boys – who, at this point in their career, weren’t even that much of a kid anymore – in a light mood at studio recordings and writing new hits during an ultra-productive phase.

We inform you here that you, the reader, are entering a zone of spoilers. If you do not want to know the content of some parts of the documentary, turn around and only return to this text when you have finished the series.

1 – Songs being born at the time

The documentary knows how to deliver those behind-the-scenes footage that fans love. In some of them, you can see classics from the Beatles’ final stage being born – and being perfected by the members.

In what seems to be one of the first times that Paul McCartney performs Let It Be, George suggests that the interpreter make an introduction on the piano before the phrase “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me”. Paul then improvises on the spot a solution for the instrumental.

Another passage shows George skating to finish the verses of something. The guitarist didn’t know what to complement the phrase with “Something in the way she moves attracts me like…”. In a relaxed moment, he suggests that the Beatles sing “like a pomegranate” (like a pomegranate, in free translation) while they can’t find a better substitute.

The process of creating other hits from the band’s final phase, such as Do not let me down, also stands out. Many songs from their solo careers are also being created and perfected in the scenes, always with hints from other members.

2 – The terrace show

The last public performance of one of the greatest rock bands in history took place in a completely unpretentious way. On January 30, 1969, the musicians climbed onto the roof of a building in central London and simply began to play songs unknown to the public – which would later become part of the album. Let It Be. All with the instruments and microphones at full volume.

The Beatles’ “triumphal” return doesn’t go unnoticed, of course.

A couple of London police officers try to reach the terrace to stop the riot. Lawmen have a strong argument: what the Liverpool quartet did in daylight could be considered a disturbance of the peace, and they, despite their unwillingness, would need to make arrests if the volume did not decrease. “There were 30 complaints in minutes”, says a young policeman, filmed by the documentary cameras.

The production also shines when highlighting interviews captured with passersby, who accumulate to hear the presentation. A businessman says that the Beatles had no right to disrupt the hours of those who work there. A lady complains about being woken from her afternoon sleep by the noise.

Another, younger, says he doesn’t want to hear them, because he simply doesn’t like the band. But all those interviewed, when asked who was performing, responded immediately: they are listening to the Beatles. “Maybe we made it through the audition,” Lennon says at the end of the show, in his characteristic good-humored tone.


3 – Clips for the songs of Let It Be and Abbey Road

Even though they are extremely prolific musicians and have played hundreds of shows at their most productive stage, the Beatles’ legacy sometimes bumps into the technology barrier. Many of these live performances were not even recorded – or, if they were, they are of poor quality and audio that compromises the experience.

Get Back shines when it manages to show some of these moments with good reproduction quality. Several takes shown during the documentary are sort of “clips” for the final versions of the songs, as they are in the albums Abbey Road and Let It be. Some of them (like I’ve Got a Feeling and One After 909) were taken from the “roof show”, others emerged after being re-recorded more than 20 times in a row in the studio. For fans, knowing the improvement process to the final version (and choosing which one will be the final one) is a big deal.

4 – Happy Beatles

In one of the scenes, Paul hums a newspaper report about George’s assault on a photographer as if it were a song. In another excerpt, the band, its advisors and guests dance happily inside the studio to the sound of Blue Suede Shoes, with Elvis Presley. Always smiling and playful, John Lennon kisses Yoko Ono in the middle of a recording, after getting his divorce and being “free at last”. Yoko’s very presence, often appointed as the pivot of the ending, seems lighter and more welcome by the other Beatles.

In short, what seems to be the biggest hit of Get Back it is also the most trivial: the relaxed moments between rehearsals and recordings, which bring out the more human and extroverted side of super talented musicians. This is, after all, what fans like to remind them of.

About Hrishikesh Bhardwaj

Tv specialist. Falls down a lot. Typical troublemaker. Hipster-friendly advocate. Food fan.

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