Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, best known for his Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, is collaborating with The Beatles to produce a new film from the 55 hours of footage originally filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg for what turned into ‘the intimate bioscopic experience’ that was 1970’s Let It Be motion picture.
The footage was shot in January 1969 as The Beatles prepared for a TV special that never materialised, starting in Twickenham Film Studios and moving to Apple’s London office in Savile Row, climaxing with the legendary performance on the roof of that building — which took place exactly 50 years ago today.
Peter Jackson said, “The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage and 140 hours of audio made available to us, ensures this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamt about – it’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together.”
I think it’s fair to say that The Beatles have never really been totally happy with either the finished Let It Be album (famously pulled together by Phil Spector, much to McCartney’s annoyance) or the film, which portrays the struggles within an unhappy looking unit, as George Harrison clashes with Paul and John brings Yoko into virtually every session. The film has never been issued officially on DVD and the band approved a revised version of the album, Let It Be Naked, which was issued in 2003.
According to Peter Jackson, “I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth. After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating – it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate. I’m thrilled and honoured to have been entrusted with this remarkable footage – making the movie will be a sheer joy.”
The footage will be restored by Park Road Post of Wellington, New Zealand using techniques developed for Jackson’s We Shall Not Grow Old WW1 documentary film.
A name for the film – which is being made with the full co-operation of Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon, and Olivia Harrison – will be announced in due course, along with a release date. With the Abbey Road album widely expected to be reissued this year, 2020 would clearly be a great time release the new movie because it would celebrate 50 years since the original. One would expect some kind of audio/video box set to follow.
Pertinently, Apple have said that a restored version of the original Let It Be movie will also be made available.