When The Beatles: Get Back was announced, I was both surprised and elated. As a Beatles fan, the first question that came to mind was “Why would they make a docu-series about what was considered the bleakest period in The Beatles’ history?”. This is a time in the band’s history most fans don’t want to think about. But, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison, and Yoko Ono Lennon clearly had faith in Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, who also happened to be a Beatles superfan. After viewing the full 8-hours, I am happy to report that any concerns I had were thrown out the window. This is everything I wanted to see and more. What was originally believed to be a bleak and grim period in the Beatles’ history, was actually a time of creativity and brotherhood infused with a good measure of joy and laughter. The viewer gets a front row seat watching the Fab Four doing what they did best…making music.
For Beatles fans, the highlight of this docu-series lies in witnessing the recording process behind some well-known songs. We see the Fab Four coming up with lyrics and melodies as they laugh and swear their way through their recording sessions. It is absolutely a delight to watch the chemistry between Paul and John. There is something magical about their connection and their ability to create music with one another is a very organic kind of way. They are completely in sync with each other and seem to pull hit songs out of thin air at times. Watching these sessions, it is easy to see the love and respect that these four men had for each other and how that came through in their music.
The Let it Be era is widely thought to be a dark period in Beatle’s history but Get Back has taken everything we thought we knew about this time and turned it on its head. There are definably some difficult moments, like George Harrison temporarily quitting the Beatles and some petty arguments between band members, but for the most part, Get Back depicts many of the happier moments before the band broke up.
One of the real treats for me was seeing more of George Harrison. Known as “the quiet Beatle” his contributions to the band aren’t as well known. Fans know him for songs like Something, Here Comes the Sun and While My Guitar Gently Weeps but may not know that he helped Paul find good riffs and chords for some of their best songs. We see George making jokes, singing, donning some great fashion and we get to learn more about how he was changed after his visit to India. Thanks to Get Back, George is cast in a more interesting and thoughtful light and fans get more exposure to this not so quiet Beatle.
Finally, the best part of this docu-series for me was seeing the famous rooftop concert in all it’s glory. For over 50 years, the footage from this 42-minute concert was thought to be lost. Witnessing this concert for the first time was a gift and made me feel joy and sadness at the same time. It was the last time the Beatles performed live together. Despite that, I loved every second of it. Seeing the final recordings of songs like Dig a Pony and I’ve Got A Feeling performed live on that rooftop was pretty incredible. The reactions from surprised pedestrians varied from enthusiasm to disdain. This was not a publicized event. There is some really fun footage of police officers attempting to stop the concert while being mocked by Paul in their performance of Get Back. This rooftop concert encapsulated everything the Beatles were: Musical geniuses with a great sense of humor.
I thoroughly enjoyed Get Back. There will be people who find it too long or boring, but if you are a fan of music at all, this will be a treat. Even as a fan, I worried that this might be Beatles overload, but the truth is, I took my time with it and enjoyed watching these last personal moments with one of the greatest bands ever. It also sparked my love for Let It Be/Get Back and they have definitely moved up on my list of favourite albums. Peter Jackson deserves great accolades for what he was able to do with this footage from a technical perspective but also for shining a light on these last days of the Beatles as a band. Fans can now look on this period as a joyful and creative time and not the bleak era it has come to be known as. A great thank you goes out to all that were involved in making this docu-series a reality and giving us the Beatles, one last time.