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  • Writer's pictureSteve Szakal

Peter and the Beatles.

When I read a few years ago that Peter Jackson who directed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was given 60 plus hours of unseen footage from the Beatles Let it Be sessions I was definitely interested but also skeptical of it being another fan boy crap Beatles doc. I am a big Beatles fan but I'm not a fan of all the books and documentaries about the fab 4. Most of them are recycling the same old shit.

The Jackson doc is three, 2.5 hour episodes that essentially inject the viewer as a fly on the wall during the 14 days the Beatles were supposed to be writing and recording in real time a full length album and then perform the songs to a live audience.

This doc might not be for everyone. If you are a musician, artist, fan of the Beatles, or are intrigued by the artistic process, this movie is for you. It can seem extremely tedious at times but honestly I loved every minute of it.

For some reason the Beatles invoke strong feelings in people. You get the "they are overrated" crowd and the "I just hate anything that a lot of people like" crowd. Just the fact that these opinions exist is a testament to how great they actually were.

In my opinion Paul and John are perhaps the greatest collaboration of human beings that has ever existed. They both came from lower middle class upbringings and also lost their mothers at very young ages. They also had just enough of a difference in song writing styles that they would butt heads but also have a mutual respect for each other to create some of the most beautiful music the world has ever known.

I took away several key thoughts from the doc. Ringo was the most dependable and patient member of the band. He was there on time every single day. While John and George basically showed up when they felt like it but when they did show up worked really hard. Ringo looked at times to be bored out of his mind waiting for the boys to cue him in to start playing. I admire Ringo for his attitude and work ethic. He knew his role and was perfect for the band.

Paul was defiantly the leader. After the death of Brian Epstein, who was their manager but also a great leader and was the one who kept them focused, Paul reluctantly had to take over and keep the band focused while also having to write songs and play base.

John was defiantly the true artist of the band. He thought out of the box and kept Paul on his toes creatively. You could see his mind constantly working to come up with just the right word or melody for the songs. It was fascinating to watch.

George was the buddha. He sat patiently for 10 years playing guitar and occasionally convincing the boys to get one of his songs in there. He was an extremely gifted songwriter and musician but knew John and Paul were the special ones and just stood patiently in the background waiting for his time to shine. His song "All things must Pass" was supposed to be on the album but didn't make it on it. This made me so happy because that is one of my favorite songs of all time and I'm so glad he was able to put it on his first solo album which was titled All Things Must Pass. If you haven't listened to that record please do. It is a masterpiece. George was a true gem.

An odd takeaway has to do with the perhaps most controversial element of the Beatles and that is Yoko. She sat next to John during the whole entire movie and really never said a word. She never gave her input or tried to influence any of the songwriting. Listen, I am not a Yoko fan at all but I will give her props on her style of art. She was extremely influential in the way modern advertising has evolved. Her bold minimalist works influenced the style of Apple and Volkswagen. I can definitely see why people are put off by her but she has played an important part in the evolution of modern art.

In conclusion, I was completely blown away by how they restored the original footage. It looks like it was filmed yesterday. The technology they used was amazing. I was fascinated by the creative process. You got to see in real time songs being written. You almost got mad at points because they were "singing the wrong words!" haha. What you hear on the finished product is almost nothing like the process leading up to it. You get to hear and see Paul screwing around on the piano and discovering the first few chords of Let It Be. Jesus Christ...fucking nuts.

If you have the time, give it a watch. It's not a marvel movie or a comedy. It is a moment in our history of four human beings who created some of the most memorable sounds and words that were recorded and now you have access to it. Peter Jackson has put together a historical document that will live on forever and I encourage anyone interested in what it takes to create something to watch it. Peace.

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