The Beatles: Get Back Review – Eight Hours of Television So Targeted That It Threats Your Mind | Television & Radio

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TThe Beatles’ 1970 album Let It Be and his depressing documentary were always bugbears at the former Fabs. John Lennon dismissed the music as “poorly recorded shit”; Paul McCartney was so horrified by the album that in 2003 he created a new version, cut off from the additions of Phil Spector, who hired Lennon as producer without telling McCartney. None of the Beatles appeared on the premiere of the documentary; Ringo Starr objected that it was “very narrow” and had “no joy”.

Peter Jackson’s Get Back is a documentary series designed to address Starr’s concerns. It shows a broader, seemingly happier picture of the band’s doomed 1969 project to write a new album, rehearse the songs and perform them live in two weeks. Whether the Get Back sessions accelerated the Beatles’ decline remains unclear, but an advantage of footage featuring songs sung and funny voices, mugging on camera and in-jokes can not stop the initial sessions at Twickenham Studios like misery ausgesinn.

Harrison is alternately nasty and prickly, as you might be if you performed a song as good as All things must pass and got a nice reception. Lennon is visible, happily stoned from his pumpkin. Valiant tries to get things done, McCartney slips further and passively-aggressively repeats. Things are not helped by the director of the original documentary, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who insists that the band should perform in an amphitheater in Tripoli – “Torchlit! In front of 2,000 Arabs!” – and is heroically embarrassed by some Beatles who tell him where to put his idea.

He’s still there when Harrison storms out and can not be persuaded back, a move that McCartney really seems to signal the end of the band. As Macca sits disconsolately at Twickenham, eyes full, Lindsay-Hogg takes the moment: “I think we should have a good location …” The Beatles seem to have split up, but the dream of Tripoli and his Torch Arabs live on.

The Beatles: Go back.
Stuck from his pumpkin … John Lennon and The Beatles: Get Back. Photo: Apple Corps Ltd.

Things get better when the band is decamped in Apple’s studio seat – at least for the Beatles. For the viewer, it is a different matter. Jackson is not a director who is noted for the brevity of his approach – his version of King Kong is twice the length of the original; his Hobbit films turned a 310-page novel into eight hours of cinema – and this is how it proves itself here. The three episodes of Get Back last the best part of eight hours. There are dubious Beatle maniacs who think this is impossibly nasty – there is a bootleg set of recordings of the Get Back sessions that fills 89 CDs – but for everyone else, its sheer length can feel like a drag.

There are fantastic moments. Lennon and McCartney’s eyes closed as they harmonized on Two of Us; producer Glyn Johns ‘gentle, useless attempt to deprive Lennon of the seemingly unimpeachable genius of Allen Klein, a crook whose involvement in the Beatles’ dismissal soon brought him to the end of a trial; Lennon’s enthusiastic scream of “Yoko!” as McCartney’s adopted six-year-old daughter, Heather, begins to cry into a microphone; and especially McCartney, who casts for a new song, idly tunes his bass and sings blunt words, slowly settling into a rhythm and melody that transforms into Get Back.

In fact, it’s hard not to crack about the productivity of the Beatles. Seemingly short of material in the beginning, after a month they not only dug up the entire Let It Be album, but also more than half of Abbey Road and a selection of songs that had been included on their early solo albums: Jealous Guy, back seat of my car, give some truth.

But moments of inspiration and interest are hidden in the acres of desultory chit-chat (“zillos rambling,” as Lennon rightly puts it) and repetition. There comes a point, about five hours later, when the prospect of hearing another ramshackle version of Don’t Let Me Down becomes an active threat to viewers’ sanity. That is doubtful as the recording of an album is, but for a viewer it is – to use the language of 1969 – a real drag. Much opposition has been poured into Yoko Ono for her constant presence at Beatles recording sessions, but then you marvel at her power to sit through them.

With Lindsay-Hogg’s 2,000 torchlight Arabs a memory, it ends with the famous concert on the roof of Apple’s HQ, which Jackson benefits most from by showing it in the split screen, shared with pictures of the street below and police arguing with the receptionist of Building. . It’s 40 minutes of unlimited fun, but it’s an infinitely long and winding road to get there. You wonder how many spectators the distance lasts and if anyone, other than the named maniacs, take it more than once.

The Beatles: Get Back is on Disney + November 25th, 26th and 27th

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