THE BEATLES: GET BACK Review: Clear Your Schedule

I wish that right this second, I could meet your face across the universe of a theatre lobby to unite in our “Dammit-that-was-freakin-exquisite”! disbelief head-shake as we merge with the sea of people exiting the aisles, acclimating into a single file of bright lights, real-time, space, sound and existence so we could find each other outside and immediately spend another nine hours going off about the magnificence that just altered our molecules called The Beatles: Get Back, Directed by three-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson (THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD).  

There. I just typed my way through that feeling, and it’s out of my system. 

Because you are no longer with us, and I can’t do that with you. But oh dear friend I can see you grinning your biggest one yet. 

If you were here we would be catching each other up on the backstory, the history, the various bootleg footage you or I may have previously been acquainted with until NOW, experiencing this film, compiled from over 60 hours of unseen footage shot in January 1969 (by Michael Lindsay-Hogg) and more than 150 hours of unheard audio, all of which has been brilliantly restored. Peter Jackson is the only person in 50 years to have been given access to these private film archives.

Then, when all the late restaurants close and we found ourselves in the back of a diner kept open for us, we would get into the kind of food-going-cold frenzy we love, breaking down what we just witnessed; John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr planning their first live show in over two years, capturing the writing and rehearsing of fourteen new songs, originally intended for release on an accompanying live album. The server would inevitably be joining our conversation intrigued, adding their own lore and trivia and we’d be assuring them no spoilers as we exclaim that the documentary features, for the first time in its entirety, The Beatles’ last live performance as a group, the unforgettable rooftop concert on London’s Savile Row, as well as other songs and classic compositions featured on the band’s final two albums ABBEY ROAD and LET IT BE. Mind Blown. 

Yes friend, we’d be diving into it; The colors, the sonic layers, the glimpses of genius-in-process, the genius of a pianist in the moments of his lifetime, the joy of hearing untouchable songs be tried and tried again until they’re right. The joy of hearing when the lyrics we know like we know our bones, find their fit, lock-in, and become themselves for the first time. The joy of seeing each Beatle in his best display of essence, brilliance, life-questioning and playfulness. And Ringo, oh Ringo with his swimming pool eyes that are just like his drums, filling in those big dark spaces between the notes the lads leave him. 

This is a film that every Beatles fan, music-lover, documentary-discerner, and cerebral-fine-tooth-comber, deserves to go into as a full-on-surprise. This film has a spirit unto itself, I felt it sitting with me; The Spirit of wonder and hope, awe and fascination, and the joy of the reveal. Mark my words, it is colourful, but it is no rose-colored waltz. We all know where it leads. 

The film will brilliantly, no matter where you’re coming from, land itself where it needs to for you. So whether you already know all there is to know about The Beatles, or know nothing. you’ll understand.  

What hit me upon the first frame of the film, and what I’m left with immediately after the credits close is the joy from experiencing the type of event that this film is, and was (and will be when everyone on earth sees it over the next week), and the void of missing you, who I wish I could share every detail of this flash of stoke with, because seeing this holy grail alone awakens the most drastic need to connect back to share the stoke with others. None of these moments matter, if not shared. 

I don’t want to talk about it on my own to my computer screen; that’s like counting down to a Christmas spent alone. And we’ve all been counting down to this one, alone in our own ways, for the past two years. 

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies

If you’ve come to intellectualize, romanticize, spiritualize, idolize or criticize the Beatles oh will you have your chances! If you’ve come to revisit your screaming teenage years, celebrate the ones who woke up the music in you, or meet the songs for the first time, which I think we all get to do watching this film, THE BEATLES: GET BACK pulls you into this reverie. But amidst the magic, intellect, spontaneity and answers to some iconic mysteries, the reality of important relationships announces itself through this otherworldly band of brothers; relationships are mirrors with a depth and lifespan of their own. The best ones make room for us to emerge into our own discovery so we can continue on our own truest paths. And what that process means is that there will sometimes be discord and there will sometimes be harmony, and we never know where that will lead us, but we can’t honor something so pure and true without pulling back from both opposites, and seeing the relationship from that place. And that’s just what Peter Jackson does with GET BACK. 

The Beatles needed to Get Back to move forward, no matter what that forward looked like. And if there was ever a time when the world needs that too, it’s now. And maybe it takes something as massive, timeless and potent as The Beatles were -and still are- to show us how to do that, like they did once before in history. The film-within-a-film aspect and time-traveling nods to both past and future has a profundity unto itself that I haven’t quite fully digested yet.

This film wants and wills togetherness to happen. People talk about the notion of a fifth Beatle being a person whose presence gave new currents to the Mighty River of Four, but in this film it’s the inevitable magnet of Peter Jackson’s sixth sense at the mixing board, pulling all parts and timelines towards a unified theory, broken bits and bruised hubris included, of the wanting and needing and willing of a connection so deeply, on so many layers and from so many approaches like anything transcendent; with the ability to resonate with all. And isn’t that just what the Beatles did?

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies

A Disney+ Original documentary series, debuting exclusively on Disney+ November 25, 26 and 27, 2021. Our thanks to Disney PR for sending along a screener for advance review!

One Reply to “THE BEATLES: GET BACK Review: Clear Your Schedule”

  1. Kudos to the author of this piece for having put so deeply into words the emotions of such an experience. And so personal too. It sounds like Peter Jackson has done it again. I’ll have to watch it this weekend.

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