When I heard that Peter Jackson, perhaps the most versatile contemporary filmmaker today, was working on a documentary on The Beatles, I was cautiously optimistic. After seeing the amazing technical feat achieved with his World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, I thought this film would be very interesting.
Indeed, after sifting through hours of previously unseen footage of 1969 Get Back recording sessions, Jackson has created a film of significant pop cultural importance. Unfortunately, The Beatles: Get Back is also a slog. The movie is almost nine hours of coherant but not particularly engaging video footage. Much of the audio has to be sub-titled. It’s great for fans and music historians, but difficult for others to stick with.
Nevertheless, Jackson’s documentary is a treasurer.
My full review is live at The Beacon. I draw on insights for my own book, The Beatles and Economics: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and the Making of a Cultural Revolution to add some historical context. This context, I believe, makes the documentary and the dynamics between the band mates more understandable.
I write in part,
A more astute way of looking at the tension in the studio is through the lens art. Tensions and disagreements are inevitable as these four highly experienced, extraordinarily talented, and creative personalities were ready to chart their own direction through their own voices. What is remarkable is the amount of high quality pop music created despite these tensions.
There’s a lot to unpack in this documentary. For Beatles and pop music fans, it’s well worth the investment.
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