Get Back review: Watch The Beatles making magic in their final days

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The Beatles gather to record and film Let It Be. The Disney Plus documentary Get Back revisited the occasion decades later.

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My dad once saw the Beatles play live. Obviously, a lot of parents and grandparents did, but I think my dad’s story was something special. He was sweeping after a youth-club dance and had a chance to catch the night’s entertainers, four up-and-coming local boys, jamming together on stage. I’m surprised that, seeing John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr flirting together early in their careers, they met the new documentary Like Goosebumps Move back, which gives you an intimate close-up of the fragmented Fab Four in their final days.

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Directed by Peter Jackson, Get Back takes us back to 1969 and challenges a long-established narrative about the final days of the Beatles. It is a documentary series consisting of three long episodes, released Disney Plus From today on November 25, 26 and 27, one at a time.

This exhaustive (and, honestly, a bit exhausting) look inside the songwriting and recording process gives you a close-up of four of the world’s most famous musicians as they try to figure out if they want to be the Beatles anymore. Huh. It’s undoubtedly a hypnotic treat for music scholars and Beatles megafans alike. But despite absorbing the undercurrent of suspense surrounding the fate of the band, Get Back is still eight hours of watching some people sit in a room.

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After evolving from a gang of underprivileged teens in the late 1950s to the acclaimed Lords of Beatlemania in the 1960s, it wasn’t until 1969 that the group found itself apart. Following a backlash from American religious types against Lennon’s remarks about being more famous than Jesus, he quit touring to focus on increasingly complex and experimental music. But a side effect of the time-saving technological innovation of multitracking meant they played individually rather than together as a unit, as other commitments and relationships strained their friendship.

Realizing they needed to recapture their old energy, the band decided to write and record an album in two weeks, leading up to their first live gig in years. He even decided to film the whole thing. But the resulting film, Let It Be, turned out to be something very different, because by the time it came out, the Beatles weren’t there.

beatles get back

The Beatles played their last concert in January 1969 on the roof of London.

Let It Be has been considered a seminal rock text for decades, an inside look at a band that is on the Nerdshala of explosion. But Get Back revisits and somewhat corrects that myth, opening with a clear disclaimer about how events and people are depicted. The new series scrutinizes 56 hours of unseen footage and over 150 hours of previously unheard audio, and there’s room for a lot of nuance in the three long episodes.

Sure, there’s obvious tension. Harrison makes his pitch to be more involved, but struggles against McCartney’s lead. Meanwhile, McCartney is frustrated by his lack of enthusiasm. Lennon is always late, with Yoko Ono perennially over his shoulder. With cameras from the other side of the cavernous yet claustrophobic studio, where the band meets to rehearse, the four men talk real about being sad.

And there’s an outside pressure to be the biggest pop group on the planet. Following the death of their manager, the Beatles are now managing themselves and grappling with difficult complications such as grabbing equipment from record label EMI. Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who oversaw filming, strictly recommends that the band perform in an amphitheater in Libya or a children’s hospital. And the clock is ticking because Ringo has to go and make a movie with Peter Sellers.

beatles get back

The Beatles write and record songs that would appear on their final albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be.

But Get Back also shows that a bunch of creative people are having fun. Lennon makes everyone laugh with his silly voices, everyone pisses off McCartney’s beard, and they walk around with a dirty version of ob-la-di, ob-la-da. The camera captures Lennon watching Harrison play. John and Yoko slow-dance to jam sessions, and the ever-present yet almost completely silent Ono is also seen joking around with McCartney’s soon-to-be-wife Linda. There is a delightful moment when Linda’s younger daughter, Heather, pricks with a song. And after hours of watching a crisis build up around Harrison, it’s truly heartwarming that he can’t stop himself from smiling when other people make fun of him.

Above all, Get Back shows a gang of boys doing magic. The film begins with untouched shots of music and filming equipment being set up as John, Paul, George and Ringo drift to their seats for the first song. They watch each other attentively, locking in on a new song, joking about each other as they slide in and out of the groove. It is mesmerizing.

It happens over and over again, whether they’re swaying along to songs by Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry or feeling the potential lyrics of The Long and Winding Road. As they struggle through embryonic versions of so many iconic songs, you find yourself rooted to finding the right words for them that you know are waiting to slot in place.

McCartney’s love and understanding of music is infectious as he ties what he is doing to the wider musical traditions. You get an interesting glimpse of what Harrison saw on the telly last night and how a jarring association between the two shows led to the song I’m Mine. And like my dad did when sweeping a back room in Merseyside, you get to see the Beatles casually and happily swapping instruments, working together to shape their sound. Is.

Although I’m from Wirral, a leafy peninsula across the river from Liverpool that the Beatles played at many times while growing up, my parents didn’t have any rarities or collector’s items in their record collections. We weren’t a musical family, or if I’m being honest, even a particularly big Beatles fan. They were just the main/sole shared interest in the thunder of my parents’ easy listening LPs. I’m sure I’m not the only person who connected with my parents via the Beatles as a background radiation passing down musical tastes.

On paper, Get Back would seem like the perfect holiday season family viewing. good luck with him. My dad would fall asleep in his chair within minutes. Not only is it excruciatingly long, but it is also quite stable. Get Back is great at capturing the boredom and frustration of bands as they sit around waiting for the missing members to arrive, but it does it. really showing them Bored and frustrated sitting around, for today. Episode 2, in which music-making stops when a band member goes missing, looks like a master class in brevity to Jackson’s Hobbit films.

“You know this tape costs you two shillings a foot?” Someone inquires at one point during the recording session, and it appears that someone from Disney may have directed Jackson.

The Oscar-winning director expanded his Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films into separate cuts, and Get Back may even need multiple versions. It may not be in the spirit of the talk, but you’ll have an easier time if you can choose Just the Music, Just the Chat or Just the Fights.

Yet, if you have the time, you grow to know and empathize with these signs on a deeply human level. And the footage is full of striking moments, whether it’s a groundbreaking zoom into an abandoned mic or a private conversation captured with a recorder hidden in a flowerpot. As a bonus there’s the clothing fun going on: each day the band and their camp followers show up and show up in shiny shirts and cravats, flamboyant fluffy coats and deliciously stylish suits.

And of course, it all makes up for the big moment: the gig. Hours ago, the band is still divided on whether or not they want to go on the roof. But go up. The full 42-minute show at Get Back is performed and filmed on a cold terrace, several stories above London’s Savile Row one January lunchtime in 1969. A raucous and unique moment in rock history, this was his last concert, but what a way to say goodbye.

I said goodbye to both my parents in 2020 (neither from COVID, though the pandemic prevented us from spending time with them till the end). Returning to our old home, my siblings and I went through the old record collection one last time. Abbey Road’s tattered 7-inches and a well-worn tape cassette reminded me of my dad’s story, and made me think about my mom and dad dancing in their youth.

The last time I saw mom and dad together was on the Beatles tour in Liverpool where they only met my new daughter for the second time. My little girl is now a toddler, and sings Yellow Submarine in the bath while splashing with toys of the appropriate color. She no-nos with Hey Jude in the car, which never fails to smack me and my wife. Of course that doesn’t mean she won’t mind when I put the Get Back concert on TV over the holidays, but never mind.

One day we will see it together. For now we’ll let it be.

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