Ho Chi Minh City, VIETNAM – In January 1969, The Beatles – Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon – were faced with the task of writing and recording 14 new songs in just two weeks.
These songs were meant to create an accompanying album to the band’s first live performance in over two years. It would turn out to be their last studio release and their last live performance as a group.
This album is 1970’s Let It Be.
Director Peter Jackson worked with more than 60 hours of unseen footage (left over from Michael-Lindsay Hogg’s 1970 documentary of the sessions) to create the documentary series The Beatles: Get Back.
Nearly eight hours of brilliantly restored footage gives viewers the clearest look at the Fab Four, perhaps ever.
This period of The Beatles is often mythologized as being marred by business troubles and constant arguments, where sessions were tense and unpleasant.
Therefore, I was excited to see that Get Back rewrites this chapter of Beatles history.
The infamous Yoko Ono actually creates little tension. Although there is still conflict between band members, there is a much stronger focus on the music.
The Beatles and keyboard player Billy Preston spend much of the series playing joyful impromptu ‘studio jams.’ They mess around with Beatles songs of all eras, and those of other popular artists of the decade, reminding audiences of music’s ability to bring happiness to all.
Of course, there are still downhearted moments.
Harrison quietly leaves the band at the end of Part 1, fed up with the group’s dynamic. At the beginning of Part 2, the band struggles to move on without him and the looming idea of breaking up is directly mentioned for the first time as Paul and Ringo solemnly reflect on the state of the band.
It’s a sobering reminder of the limited time The Beatles have left together.
Still, the docuseries is mostly a unique glance into The Beatles’ creative process.
A standout moment is when cameras filmed Paul McCartney’s live creation of The Beatles’ next single, the titular “Get Back.”
For the first time, fans get to witness the creation of a Beatles track, from passive guitar-strumming to the beginnings of what would become yet another No. 1 on the charts.
The band is also seen working on songs that members would later go on to release as solo artists, after the Beatles’ breakup.
Examples include McCartney’s “Another Day” and Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass.”
It serves to remind modern audiences of their genius, as solo artists and as The Beatles.
To quote a passerby during the climactic rooftop concert, “I think The Beatles are cracking! I said, you can’t beat ‘em!”
Arisu Babakhani is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.