Since its release in May 1970 The Beatles’ cinematic swansong Let It Be has —in all its grainy, washed-out half-heartedness— been largely remembered as a painful trudge through the last incarnation of The Fabs. Indeed, such was the pall that it seemed to cast over the group’s otherwise spectacular story that this rarely shown, bleak denouement had apparently been consigned to the deepest dungeon of Apple Corps’ vaults, never to see the light of day again. As John Lennon later remembered it, the making of Let It Be had been ‘hell,’ so much so that from his point of view “even the biggest Beatle fan couldn't have sat through those six weeks (sic) of misery.” Fair comment, one might have thought, from someone who had actually endured the experience — except that five decades later a revisited, cleaned-up and extended version of the footage shot for the original film, now in the form of a documentary entitled Get Back, seriously undermines Lennon’s recollections.
After immersing himself in over sixty hours of film and more than 150 hours of audio, acclaimed director Peter Jackson has produced a three-part epic which, in total, runs for over seven hours and remains totally enthralling throughout. Using the kind of whizzy state-of-the-art technology which enabled him to create the documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, an astonishingly moving re-visitation of First World War footage in which the long-gone participants come to colourised, visceral life again, Jackson does a similar job of revivifying The Beatles’ world as it was in early 1969. Such is Jackson’s deft directorial touch that what could have been an exercise in phoney revisionism becomes a gloriously multifaceted evocation of the up-close and personal relationship between four extraordinary individuals, revealing each of them in their best and worst lights.
Only a couple of months after the release of the so-called ‘White Album,’ The Beatles reconvened to begin their next project. It was the 2nd of January 1969 and the venue was a sound stage at Twickenham Film Studios in West London. In this vast, characterless space, the group’s (in retrospect seemingly rudimentary) equipment was set up as a small oasis of musical instruments, wires, microphones and amplifiers, whilst all around them cameramen and sound technicians lurked in the shadows. With no clear end product in view but with the vague idea of rehearsing for some sort of return to live performance, the four main protagonists —previously used to late-night sessions in the secluded comfort of the Abbey Road studios— had committed to facing this uncongenial no-man’s-land at the ungodly hour of 10 a.m. One might ask, why did they decide to put themselves through this? What were they thinking? But as Get Back soon reveals, The Beatles themselves didn’t really know where this next chapter in their extraordinary story was taking them. Perhaps the only person who did seem to have some firm ideas about the whole venture was the original director of Let It Be, Michael Lindsay-Hogg. From early on in proceedings, the ever-voluble Lindsay-Hogg is keen to sell the idea of the Twickenham sessions as a warm-up for what he sees as the main event: a spectacular performance at a Roman Amphitheatre in Sabratha, Libya, complete with torch-lit procession to the venue. Even though he is informed by Paul McCartney pretty much from the outset that this pipe-dream will come to nothing because “Ringo doesn’t want to go abroad,” the cigar-chomping young director is nothing if not persistent in his grandiose dreams of “a big finish.” Even so, and for all his occasionally irksome presence, without Lindsay-Hogg’s directorial tenacity in chronicling some of the last times in which the four Beatles could stand being in the same room together, we wouldn’t have the wonders of Get Back to feast on some fifty-odd years later.
Unsurprisingly, given the rather unappealing surroundings, the commencement of the Twickenham sessions didn’t exactly see The Beatles hit the ground running. As with any team coming together after the Christmas and New Year holiday break, the shock of being back ‘at work’ took some time to sink in— furthermore, the group had to contend from the outset with the fact that everything they said or did was being captured for posterity. The access which the viewer is given to the group’s inner dynamic, made all the more immediate by the astonishing work that Jackson’s team has done on restoring the footage, means that it takes a little while to sink in that these four somewhat dishevelled blokes hunched over their instruments are collectively the most celebrated popular music group that the world has ever seen. Then again, that abrupt juxtaposition of mundanity and otherworldliness has always been part of The Beatles’ allure.
As the sessions begin, the viewer becomes aware of how each member of the group is processing the experience. McCartney is the organisational and creative live-wire, keen to get ‘the boys’ fired up for the task ahead: a shepherding role which, following the death of their manager Brian Epstein almost eighteen months earlier, the others had largely expected him to take on. Lennon, for all his legendary caustic wit and unpredictable hijinks, is noticeably subdued —the effect, it is generally supposed, of his heroin habit. Harrison, although initially somewhat nonplussed by the realisation that everything will be caught on camera, soon accepts the situation and starts to vie with McCartney in offering up musical ideas. As for Starr, he seems completely unfazed by the whole situation, just happy to be there.
In terms of supporting players, Lindsay-Hogg struts around, with producer Denis O’Dell enthusiastically backing up his increasingly flamboyant ideas as to where this whole venture is heading. Director of photography Tony Richmond flits around at opportune moments, while flame-haired amanuensis Kevin Harrington’s job mainly involves ensuring that The Beatles are constantly fuelled by a diet of tea and toast. Neil Aspinall —long-standing Beatles roadie and future CEO of Apple— puts in a few lugubrious appearances, while George Martin contributes more in the later stages of the project to finally corral and galvanise the group. Indeed, Martin's supervisory qualities are sorely missed in the early days at Twickenham, despite the best attempts of recording engineer (and dedicated follower of fashion) Glyn Johns to keep proceedings moving along.
However, two of the most intriguing characters in Get Back, for very different reasons, are Yoko Ono and Mal Evans. Given that Jackson’s editorial decisions had to meet with the approval of the surviving Beatles and the respective estates of Lennon and Harrison, it is intriguing that Ono is hardly noticeable in the entire seven-hours-plus. She is a poker-faced presence at Lennon’s side, and generally seems a little bit bored. Given that Ono’s attendance at Beatles recording sessions from 1968 onwards is seen by many fans as evidence of the wicked spell she had cast over the weak-willed, mother-figure-craving Lennon, we might expect to see evidence of why this sorceress was so alluring to him. Instead she is portrayed as vaguely present, only perking up during an interval of good-natured chit-chat with Linda Eastman, the future Mrs McCartney. Thankfully the hostility towards Ono has gradually subsided over the years as she has come to be recognised as an innovative and slyly humorous artist in her own right, but other bootlegged accounts of the Get Back sessions do suggest that she was somewhat more irritating to Lennon’s bandmates than Jackson’s documentary lets on. Then there is Mal Evans who, along with Aspinall, had been a roadie for The Beatles from the early sixties and was one of their inner circle’s most trusted members. The 6’ 6” strapping former bouncer seems to have genuinely earned the epithet ‘gentle giant,’ if his behaviour in Get Back is anything to go by: he shows childlike delight in being on call for whatever the group needed, whether copying down lyrics, ensuring that different guitars were on hand, or sourcing an anvil at the drop of a hat in order to produce the sound effects for Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.
On the 3rd of January, two days into the Twickenham sessions, the transcendent bond between Lennon and McCartney is revealed as the sine qua non of the group’s existence. Despite Lennon’s pugnacious appeal and song-writing dominance in the early part of their career, McCartney’s melodic acuity and natural resilience saw him take over in the later phase to ensure that the group continued to live up to their incredibly high standards of invention and musicality. Even so, in Get Back McCartney still seems somewhat in awe of Lennon, whom he had perceived as a sort of “fairground hero” on first encountering him when they were younger, and he is delighted when Lennon launches into One After 909. This early Lennon composition with its chugging, bluesy feel is not a particularly noteworthy piece of music, but it provides McCartney with the chance to praise Lennon’s precocious song-writing talent (“Incredible, isn’t it”) and enthuse about featuring a revamped version in the upcoming live show/album that they are planning. This is markedly in contrast to the downbeat-verging-on-dismissive manner with which McCartney processes the songs that Harrison had brought along. Having said that, it should be noted that when One After 909 is being discussed, Harrison also indulges in a mild bout of adoration, as if vying with McCartney for Johnny’s attention. This rummage through the group’s back catalogue leads into several loose jams of specimens from the Lennon and McCartney songbook, mainly their less well-known compositions, as well as of obscure cover versions which featured in their early stage act. Throughout Get Back, this tendency to spontaneously launch into past material and old standards (anything from Save The Last Dance For Me to Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen By the Sea) seems to be a way for the group to relax and step back from the task in hand —the 1969 equivalent, perhaps, of idling on their mobile phones.
Just two days later one of the most notorious episodes in the group’s final phase takes place, when the simmering tensions between McCartney and Harrison flare up into a decidedly tetchy exchange centred around a run-through of Two of Us. McCartney seems unhappy with Harrison’s performance of his guitar line and tries, in a somewhat inarticulate way, to vent his frustrations. Harrison in turn reacts with a masterclass in passive aggression. In an exchange which indicates that there had been tension between them for several years, McCartney’s complaint that “I’m trying to help, you know. But I always hear myself annoying you” is met by the stoic (and rather sad) rejoinder from Harrison that “you don’t annoy me anymore.” Before the splendours of Get Back were unveiled, the original Let It Be film had been edited so as to make this altercation seem the absolute exemplification of how The Beatles reached the end of the line, so much so that Harrison’s further comment (“I’ll play, you know, whatever you want me to play, or I won’t play at all if you don’t want me to play. You know, whatever it is that’ll please you, I’ll do it”) has become the oft-quoted stuff of legend for Beatles-heads. However, as Get Back shows, this squabble did not by any means represent the final nail in the group’s coffin but was instead just one example of the uneasy relationship between McCartney and Harrison that continued to be an open wound long after The Beatles had called it a day.
It seems that this disagreement was also indicative of McCartney’s sense of more general frustration at a certain directionless miasma apparently fuelled by Lennon’s substance abuse and Harrison’s wary resentment. At one point he questions why they are even there and bemoans the fact that he “really doesn’t feel an awful lot of support” from his bandmates. As for the increasingly nebulous prospect of putting on a show, “I’m not interested enough to spend my ******* days farting around here while everyone makes up their minds whether they want to do it or not,” and “All I want to see is enthusiasm…But the thing is we’re just all sort of agreeing with it, but not doing it.” Cue Harrison’s suggestion that the band are heading towards a “divorce,” which McCartney agrees had been mentioned at an earlier meeting. At times like this Jackson’s well-judged assemblage of scenes provides a timely reminder of what immense pressure the group were under due to their unprecedented success —or, as Harrison once put it, whereas the fans gave their screams, The Beatles sacrificed their nervous systems. Despite such occasional ‘bad vibes,’ the flip-side of these early rehearsals are the occasions when something magical happens, serving to reaffirm The Beatles’ preternatural lustre —a case in point being the footage of an evidently driven McCartney attacking his bass guitar in an effort to summon up a musical idea, the end result being a bare-bones, early version of the song Get Back. As an entranced Ringo and a (deliberately?) bored Harrison look on, McCartney slips into something like shamanic possession and one of the best-known items in The Beatles’ opus emerges before our very eyes. ‘Genius’ has become a much-debased term through tedious overuse, but here we see true musical genius in full flow. As the band begin to work on developing the song, it at one stage transmutes into a version which, for some years, had been seen as decidedly questionable. The so-called (mainly by Beatles folklorists and bootleggers) Commonwealth Song was —in the days before there was ready access to such musical oddments—described as the version of Get Back which ‘they’ (meaning The Beatles) didn’t want you to hear, betraying an ostensibly deeply racist attitude to immigration and celebrating Enoch Powell’s obscene diatribes. However, as the extended footage clearly shows, it was actually a parody of Powell supporters’ bigotry in much the same way that Alf Garnett was used by his creator Johnny Speight to taunt those audience members who identified with Garnett’s fulminations.
On Friday the 10th of January comes the pivotal moment in the whole Get Back saga, as an ever more disaffected Harrison —having sat on the side-lines to watch Lennon and McCartney increasingly dominate proceedings— announces at the lunch break that he will be “leaving the band.” In answer to a non-plussed Lennon asking “when?” Harrison calmly replies “now.” As legend has it, his further parting shot (away from the cameras) was “see you round the clubs.” Although The Beatles —having spent most of the sixties clinging to each other within a maelstrom of their own making— had inevitably had bust-ups before, Harrison’s exit at this point was truly a watershed moment. As quite definitely third in line behind John and Paul and the youngest member of the band, Harrison had, up until this point, retained something of the aura of the cocky little kid whom McCartney had befriended and the juvenile nuisance who used to tag along with Lennon whenever he was prowling the streets of Liverpool. Now, however, Harrison —whether because of his spiritual enlightenment courtesy of the Maharishi and Krishna Consciousness or because he was quite simply disillusioned with Beatlemania and all its trappings— seems to have finally summoned up the courage to show the others that he really didn’t need to be part of the gang anymore. As if in recognition of this body blow to their collective psyche, Harrison’s unlooked-for departure causes the remaining Beatles to throw themselves into an aggressive free-form jam, with Ono’s piercing banshee vocals adding to the sense of emotional tumult. Once this has subsided, an obviously troubled Lindsay-Hogg engages Lennon in a discussion about what might happen next. With his customary ability to appear to shrug off misfortunes, Lennon simply states that if Harrison doesn’t return by the following week “we’ll just get (Eric) Clapton.”
By the next Monday, and following on from a meeting with Harrison at the weekend that did not go well, a rather hungover Starr and distinctly pensive McCartney are the only two Beatles to arrive at Twickenham, with no one sure whether Lennon will bother to turn up. As they sit around with members of the band’s inner circle, McCartney holds forth at some length as to what he sees as the main issues that they have to resolve, centring on Lennon and Ono’s relationship and how it has affected the group. As he says at one point, “There’s only two answers. One is to fight it and fight her and try to get The Beatles back to four people without Yoko ... Or the other thing is just to realise she’s there and he’s not going to split with her for our sakes. But it’s really not that bad, they want to stay together, so it’s alright, let the young lovers stay together, you know.” As the general discussion which ensues gradually tails off, a visibly upset McCartney stares into the distance and mutters, with regard to his missing bandmates, “And then there were two,” thus providing one of the most emotionally affecting vignettes in the whole documentary.
Eventually, and much to McCartney’s evident relief, Lennon does finally arrive. What follows is a dialogue between Lennon and McCartney about Harrison’s departure, captured for posterity thanks to Lindsay-Hogg’s ethically questionable habit of hiding microphones in strategic places in order to record conversations, this time in a plant pot in the studio canteen. Using their own elliptical way of conversing, the two men recognise Harrison’s frustrations and the personal politics that are fuelling the current difficulties. However, nothing gets resolved or decided upon, which serves to poignantly illuminate how essentially rudderless The Beatles had become amidst the weariness of fame, without a father figure in the shape of Brian Epstein to rally the troops.
The following day, which will turn out to be their last appearance at Twickenham, proves to be a rather desultory waste of time, with the three group members in attendance appearing distinctly listless. At one point they are visited by Peter Sellers, soon due to appear alongside Starr in the film The Magic Christian. Lennon, who had earlier in the day been interviewed by Canada’s CBC TV whilst high on heroin, still exhibits traces of his latest indulgence, appearing to go out of his way to make Sellers uncomfortable with odd observations and a rambling line of questioning, at the same time keeping everyone else edgily entertained with some bizarrely humorous one-liners. As discomposing as this scene is to watch (an ill-at-ease Sellers soon makes his excuses and leaves), it does give a flavour of how formidably sardonic Lennon could be in asserting his authority. Little wonder, after such an interlude, that not long after a decision is taken to switch the cameras off and call a halt to the day’s proceedings.
Thus ends what could have been a truly dismal final day in The Beatles’ career, one which would have firmly substantiated claims that the original Let It Be film was an accurate portrayal of their sad demise —except that on the following day, the 15th of January 1969, a further meeting took place, in which Harrison succeeded in negotiating his return on condition of abandoning Twickenham in favour of setting up a studio at Apple’s headquarters in Savile Row. Suddenly things start to look up. However, as the group would soon find out, the studio which they thought was being built for them at Apple by a self-styled electronics wunderkind known as ‘Magic Alex’ was so totally unfit for purpose that George Martin and long-time Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick had to oversee a hastily-constructed alternative recording studio using improvised and borrowed equipment. Because of this, it was only on the 21st of January that the group, including a fully reconciled Harrison, were able to resume rehearsals.
As a dramatic spectacle, particularly in terms of the multifaceted interactions between these four young men (Starr, the oldest, still only twenty-nine), the Twickenham period in Get Back is by some measure the most psychologically-engrossing part of the documentary. So much so that the latter half, in which we see The Beatles rapidly acclimatise to the more familiar surroundings of a traditional studio set-up, could —in the hands of a lesser director— have appeared meanderingly anodyne. However, what Jackson presents instead is a nuanced exploration of how the most famous group in the world, having set themselves the mind-blowing task of writing and rehearsing fourteen songs in just two weeks, proceeded to finally get stuck in.
On the second day in their refreshingly chilled-out environment (the 22nd of January, 1969), a new figure looms into view who will prove something of a game-changer in energising The Beatles themselves and giving several of their fledgling songs a whole new musical dimension. Enter Billy Preston. Having previously befriended The Beatles back in 1962 whilst a member of Little Richard’s band in Hamburg, Preston happened to be in London to take part in a BBC television show when he visited The Beatles at Savile Row and was asked to contribute his keyboard prowess. As has often been remarked, if the group had by that point become something of an enervated clique that could, at times, be sullenly overfamiliar with each other’s every last irritating peccadillo, Preston was the breath of fresh air who put everyone back on their game in the way that new additions to a team frequently do. The whole band, without exception, seem happy to see Billy and are delighted with his ability to produce exquisite free-form keyboard parts which sprinkled some fairy dust over such bona fide classics as I’ve Got a Feeling and Don’t Let Me Down. Speaking of which, now that the impassioned histrionics that made the Twickenham sessions so gripping are out of the way, it might be thought that only die-hard Beatles fans would be interested in the umpteen run-throughs of such songs as Two Of Us, Dig A Pony, and Let It Be, along with vaudevillian parodies of their earlier hits. However, this being The Beatles, even in their more quietly intense moments they are still great value for money. Although doubt has been cast in some quarters on the extent to which the group were being themselves (given that the cameras were rolling the entire time), it is bewitching to see them summon up and settle into a creative magnetism between themselves, politely brush off Lindsay-Hogg’s next idea for a live event, call on Mal Evans to scribble down revised lyrics, get the ever-amenable Kevin to supply tea and toast, or berate Glyn Johns (or, as he was christened by Lennon, ‘Glynis’) for daring to offer a musical arrangement idea. With Preston displaying superb improvisatory skills and Harrison firmly back on board, we get to see The Beatles in full-on majestic mode. As usual, McCartney is the melodic powerhouse, effortlessly bringing some new classic that came to him the night before to each day’s proceedings. Along the way some obscure curios such as The Palace of the King of Birds and Madman are briefly trialled before Get Back (for what seems like the five hundredth time) is once more attempted with ever-evolving lyrics. In Beatles folklore, McCartney’s obsessive insistence on interminably rehearsing songs such as Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da and Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, and thereby testing his bandmates’ patience to the absolute limit, has become something of a standing joke; nevertheless, the way the group continually fashion, puzzle over, and re-work every last element of each song during these sessions brings to life Thomas Edison’s old adage about genius being “one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” So —in effect, and all things considered— Paul and his fanatical work ethic saved The Beatles from crumbling under the weight of their own ever-lurking inanition.
Over the ensuing days before the grand finale (spoiler alert: it ends on a roof), there are several sweet moments: Harrison painstakingly helping Starr to develop his initial ideas on Octopus’s Garden; Lennon at his (relatively) relaxed best dealing out surreal witticisms (“I dig a pigmy, by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf Aids” being one of the more famous); the antics of six-year-old Heather, brought along by mum Linda to meet her soon-to-be stepdad’s mates; and George Martin’s calm but playful projection of authority. Each and every one of these passages is magical. Then comes the moment when the ever-present, still unresolved question of a future live show and its form is finally resolved. McCartney once more lapses into sullen reverie during an entertaining but ultimately directionless rehearsal session, but the look of revitalised glee on his face as Lindsay-Hogg and Glyn Johns whisper a proposal to do the live show on the roof of the Savile Row building is priceless. Here, at last, is an event to prepare for that will happen in a matter of days, despite any shared misgivings or nerves. Cut to The Beatles and the production crew clambering over a London rooftop to precariously size up how this concert could be performed in practice.
All seems set for a wonderful resolution to this extended exercise in laughter, loathing, and lethargy, except that, having carried out a reccy of the roof space and (more or less) agreed to go with the idea, back down in the studio —whilst McCartney is temporarily absent— Lennon mentions to his other two bandmates that the previous evening he has had a very positive meeting with a certain Mr Allen Klein. As real-life pantomime villains go, Klein (a fast-talking, ruthless opportunist who had hustled his way out of the back-alleys of New Jersey) is something of a legend in Beatles history. Here was a man who, having zoned in on a succession of wealthy rock-star schmucks, diligently did his homework on them and employed the fine art of flattery on an industrial scale in order to take lucrative charge of their back catalogues. Somewhat paradoxically, the cynical Lennon proved to be a soft touch once Klein had been granted an audience with him, so much so that in the final days of the Get Back sessions, the enthusiasm with which Lennon speaks about the dazzling attributes of this glorified snake-oil salesman leaves Harrison and Starr open-mouthed, with Glyn Johns (who’d obviously heard some dodgy stories about Klein) having to drop a few heavy hints as to what kind of scam artist they were dealing with. As it happened, in the end McCartney was fully justified in refusing to have any truck with Klein — but cleaning up that particular legal and financial mess would take the group the best part of the seventies to accomplish.
Nevertheless, on or about 12:30 p.m. on the 30th of January 1969, John, Paul, George, and Ringo stepped out onto the roof of the Apple Corps building and initiated yet another landmark episode in their story. As is immediately clear from the footage, it was decidedly chilly up there (45 degrees Fahrenheit), with a nasty wind whipping around London’s rooftops. A none too structurally sound performance area had been rigged up and a smattering of Beatles friends, family, and passing bit-players had made their way up seven flights to join the band. Apparently, on the day it was touch and go as to whether the event would even take place, with tales of all four Beatles having last-minute doubts until, in time-honoured fashion, Lennon suddenly waded in with the line “ **** it, let’s go do it,” a sentiment with which none of his bandmates could ever argue.
Rather than a concert in the traditional sense of showcasing highlights from their back catalogue along with some new material, the rooftop event largely consisted of several takes of new songs: Don’t Let Me Down, I’ve Got a Feeling, and, of course, Get Back, whilst single attempts at One After 909 and Dig A Pony were thrown in for good measure, along with an impromptu rendition of God Save the Queen. Despite the odd false start and occasional fluffed line, the group give an exhilarating performance in which they look relaxed and sound musically solid. As captivating as The Beatles always are to watch, a significant part of the enjoyment of watching this last extraordinary performance is the reaction of the London public as they gaze up to make out the sounds coming from somewhere above them. As crowds start to block the streets, the incongruity between the collective appearance of these ordinary late-sixties individuals going about their business compared with the celebrity aura of The Beatles, who seem to have arrived from some other, more colourfully bohemian planet, becomes strikingly apparent. As an intrepid interviewer mingles amongst the ever-increasing throng he finds out that, on the whole, most people know that they are listening to The Beatles and furthermore, most approve of what’s going on. When one woman is told that the songs are going to feature on the group’s next record her response —“Really? Oh good. Righto” — is almost Pythonesque in its caricatural English affability. Not that there aren’t any naysayers in attendance: one particularly affronted woman complains that “I just can’t see that it makes sense! It woke me up from my sleep and I don’t like it.” As much as such gripes seem to have been largely unrepresentative of the listening crowd’s response to The Beatles’ last live gig, such is the volume of the beautiful noise wafting across Mayfair and its environs that, almost inevitably, the Metropolitan Police start to receive multiple complaints. Consequently, law enforcement eventually turns up in the shape of nineteen-year-old P. C. Ray Dagg and twenty-five-year-old P. C. Ray Shayler. Looking somewhat bewildered by their mission, the two young bobbies gain admittance to the Apple Building reception area and ask the doorman and receptionist to either arrange for the noise to be turned down or fetch someone from The Beatles’ retinue to come and speak to them. When the ever-reliable Mal turns up to pacify the constabulary, P. C.s Dagg and Shayler have been joined by Sergeant David Kendrick, and before long all three have been invited up onto the roof to witness what the officers have made clear should be the last moments of this forty-two-minute concert. The moment The Beatles spot the police presence, they become ever more energised, McCartney in particular seeming to relish the possibility of getting arrested. In the end that wasn’t to be, and after more unheard pantomimic discussions between the police and the group’s staff in the background, The Beatles finally bow out with the classic Lennon line: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition.”
Thanks to Peter Jackson and his team, The Beatles’ activities at Twickenham Film Studios and Apple Corps headquarters in January 1969 have gone from an escapade best brushed under the carpet to a richly integral part of their mythology. Whilst the resultant album Let It Be is by no means one of their best, it will —because of the incredible insight that we have been given into how it was created— from now on be one of their most memorable. Above all, Jackson’s epic documentary leaves a lasting impression of how mesmerising it must have been to spend time in the company of these four individuals, or “the four headed monster” as Mick Jagger resentfully described them. Rumour has it that many more hours of this superbly-restored footage remains unreleased. Ready when you are, Mr Jackson.--Mark Jones