Thursday, May 09, 2024

Let It Be (2024 Restoration)


Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Let It Be is a documentary film about the Beatles’ attempt to make a new album in January of 1969 that would eventually lead to their final public performance in front of an audience. The film is a look into a period in which the Fab Four attempt to make new music for an upcoming concert film that was never meant to be amidst musical and personal tension within the group. Also featuring appearances from George Martin, Billy Preston, Yoko Ono, Linda Eastman, Glyn Johns, Mal Evans, Maureen Starkey, and Heather Eastman. The result is a film that explores a band trying to become a band again and have fun.

Set in January of 1969, the film follows the Beatles creating new songs in the hopes they would return to performing live in front of an audience as they would record and rehearse in two different studios that would climax with what would be their final public live performance. Yet, the film shows a band struggling to create new songs as the first sessions at Twickenham Studios where there is a brief argument between Paul McCartney and George Harrison. The sessions would move to Apple Studios where things are more relaxed and livelier as it would include Billy Preston playing the electric keyboard along with a visit from Paul’s then-girlfriend Linda Eastman and her daughter Heather who would play around in one of the sessions. It would then climax into a concert where the band would play on the rooftop of Apple Studios as it would be their last public concert ever.

That is the premise of the film in the span of 80 minutes but given the fact that it was released on May 13, 1970, just five days after the release of the album of the same name. It came out amidst a dark cloud in which the Beatles had just broken up a month earlier as well as a dour presentation of the film as it was shot originally on 16mm in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio, meant for television, as it would be blown up into 35mm as the film had a grainy look that really added to the bleakness relating to the Beatles’ break-up. It would create this myth of a film that was a total downer as it would not be shown publicly since the early 1980s as it would be bootlegged by Beatles fans where footage of the film would be shown in the Anthology documentary series in the mid-1990s. The myth of the documentary about how it played during the Beatles break-up would continue with its director Michael Lindsay-Hogg getting much of the blame. Yet, it should be noted that Lindsay-Hogg along with editors Tony Lenny, Graham Gilding, and Peter Hollywood had to make the film under the most troubling circumstances when the band was making their final album Abbey Road as well as finding new management that did play into their break-up.

Then came Get Back by Peter Jackson that took the 56 hours of footage that Lindsay-Hogg and cinematographer Anthony Richmond had shot where the myth about the dark mood of these sessions were found to be untrue. While there were moments of tension that did lead to George Harrison’s brief departure from the band during the Twickenham sessions. What Jackson discovered was a band just trying to become a band again as there is more context into what was happening in these 22 days. The resulting 2021 documentary in Get Back did not just correct a small piece of history relating to the Beatles but also destroying a myth about that period. In this 2024 restoration that is supervised by Peter Jackson with a new music remix by Giles Martin and Sam Okell comes a film that is given a new life.

Presented in fully realized colors that brings a lot of beauty to Anthony Richmond’s cinematography along with a broader sound that was originally recorded by Peter Sutton. The documentary showcases a band that is trying to create these new songs while having some fun as there is footage in the film that wasn’t in Jackson’s documentary such as a performance of Besame Mucho as well as scenes from the last recording session where the band performed Two of Us, Let It Be, and The Long and Winding Road before they would be re-produced to horrific results by Phil Spector for the 1970 album. Given that it was filmed on the last day, but it was not the final sequence of the film does bring some confusion to the film’s narrative without the context that was shown in Get Back as one of the issues of this film is some continuity in the editing. There are scenes where Paul and George are wearing a different shirt or sweater in one scene and then there is a jump-cut where they are wearing something entirely different while John Lennon is still wearing a purple/pink T-shirt with a black vest over it.

Thankfully, the narrative that Lindsay-Hogg was able to provide showed a band just making music and enjoying themselves as the climatic final performance is the highlight of the film. Performing five songs with Get Back played twice in the film, it does show a band having some fun until the police arrive to stop the show as the film ends. The 2024 restoration does open with a brief conversation between Peter Jackson and Michael Lindsay-Hogg about the film’s restoration with Lindsay-Hogg feeling vindicated that the film is given a second chance.

Let It Be is a spectacular film by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. While it is only a fragmented look into 22 days in the life of the Beatles trying to create new music that would lead to their final public performance. It still displays this brief glimpse of a band trying to be a band again instead of something bigger that has overwhelmed them. In this new restoration from Peter Jackson, the film is not just given a new life but also helps complete a small piece of a puzzle that played into the story of the Beatles and dispel myths about that period. In the end, Let It Be is a sensational film from Michael Lindsay-Hogg.

The Beatles: The Albums: Please Please Me - With the Beatles - A Hard Day's Night - Beatles for Sale - Help! - Rubber Soul - Revolver - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Magical Mystery Tour - The White Album - Yellow Submarine OST - Abbey Road - Let It Be

Compilations: (1962-1966) - (1967-1970) - Past Masters - (Live at the BBC) - (Anthology 1) - (Anthology 2) - (Anthology 3) - (1) - (Let It Be… Naked) - (Love)

The Beatles Films: (A Hard Day’s Night) – (Help!) – Magical Mystery Tour - (Yellow Submarine) – (The Beatles Anthology) – The Beatles: Get Back

Related: The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Across the Universe - Nowhere Boy - George Harrison: Living in the Material World - Good Ol' Freda - (Eight Days a Week-The Touring Years)

© thevoid99 2024


Brittani Burnham said...

Instantly heard the song in my head when I read the title. I'll have to check this out!

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-For years, it was available in, of all places, Pornhub but in that terrible dreary quality. Thank God for Peter Jackson to restore the film as he brought the film back to life and man, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I hope now all of the movies by the Beatles are on Disney+ with Anthology being next for restoration.

ruth said...

Oooh my hubby loves the Beatles so I have to find this!

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-It's on Disney+. It was unavailable for a long time except on Pornhub in that terrible quality. I was overjoyed that it was out in proper form and man, all of those stories about the film and its reputation was a bunch of bullshit.