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‘The Beatles: Get Back’ is epic in length but intimate in the portrait of a band cracked at the seams

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Two weeks ago, I asked, “Is there anything else to say about The Beatles that hasn’t been said?” in my review 1964 A Hard Day’s Night. Now EVERYONE is talking about The Beatles again for the first time since… well, maybe Ron Howard’s 2016 documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – Touring Years. Thanksgiving weekend, The Beatles: Back dropped like an atomic bomb Disney + and the world is once again infected with Beatlemania, albeit in 2021; Listening parties and album launches have been replaced with Twitter threads, memes, and Pinterest boards in their wonderfully dated wardrobe.

Nearly 8 hours long in three episodes, Return Directed by Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings famous and gathered from more than 60 hours of film and 150 hours of recording. A relatively small portion of this material was previously seen in Michael Lindsay-Hogg .’s 1970 film Let it be and heard on the album of the same name. Released a month after The Beatles officially disbanded, both are rather dull stories that portray the band at their funniest and most boring stage. Returnon the contrary, paints a broader and more nuanced picture of a group grappling with personal and artistic pain while working tirelessly to write, record, and produce a documentary album. new for a month.

The Beatles famously retired to the studio in 1966. Incited by a live recording session to promote their 1968 single “Hey Jude,” the group decided to record their next album first. a live audience. Writing sessions and rehearsals were filmed in preparation for the final concert, which will then be broadcast as a television special. Seeing the group’s equipment set up on a cold and cavernous movie soundstage, one wouldn’t be wrong to think this was the perfect environment for a young rock band to explode. “I don’t think this is a very good place acoustically,” says guitarist George Harrison, one of his many factual observations that would be validly overlooked alongside his composition, made him leave the group after 7 days to practice.. “If he doesn’t come back by Tuesday, we’ll see (Eric) Clapton,” John Lennon replied when the news, introduced Returnof the first episode.

Harrison was persuaded to rejoin the following week but tensions remained. Starting in their teens, the four Beatles developed into very different men. Paul McCartney was the most disciplined, sometimes overwhelming his band members with countless musical ideas and suggestions. Lennon has a comparative scarcity of new material and often appears to have checked it out. Harrison, the group’s youngest member, felt constrained to only buy two songs per album. Ringo, who briefly left the band the previous year, serves as their emotional center and mediator. Lurking in the shadows are business disputes, drug addiction and psychological trauma following the sudden death of manager Brian Epstein 16 months earlier.

Even if storm clouds tear this strip visible on the horizon, Return shows that at the time of filming, in January 1969, The Beatles were still a brother band. There were disagreements but voices were never raised and the group’s close friendship was evident. John and Paul, always drawn as the dueling extremes of the band’s character, seem to be united in their interest in their bandmates and prefer to collaborate, exchanging admiring glances after Complete the vocals or guitar part. From a fan’s perspective, it’s fascinating to watch them come up with ideas for what songs to show on their solo discography. Yes, Yoko is a somewhat annoying presence but let’s not forget, it was John who insisted she was there. I can’t fathom how bored she must have been all this time. Even Paul protected her.

Due to scheduling restrictions and inconsistencies, the Beatles’ live album performance was reduced to five new songs, some performed multiple times, performed on the roof of the Apple Corps, the group’s record label and management company. Having endured seven hours of build, it’s a pretty big bonus when they finally plug their heads in and make things up in the final 49 minutes of the movie. The group played with an excitement and joy not available until then and attracted an enthusiastic and unsuspecting crowd that included office workers, chimney sweeps and members of the Police Department. Capital London. Watching them play, you can’t help but wonder what might have happened if they had put their differences aside and toured in the age of modern sound systems, soon after that began to emerge. .

Confronted with Jackson’s Middle Earth trilogy in terms of length, Return not easy to watch, even for a musician and Beatles fan like me. If you’ve ever been curious about the extreme boredom of writing, recording and simply joining a rock band, by the end of 468 minutes of the movie, you’ll be an expert. If Jackson had merely edited half of the music that started off wrong and the covers were bad, he could have gone an hour and still captured the songwriting process and headed home the highlights. The Beatles are still having fun together. It’s the curse of the modern age that everything we watch has to be a 3-minute YouTube video or a 10-episode Netflix series that we indulge in passively auto-playing. Jackson could have told the same story, better, in less time.

Despite its faults, Return Still a remarkable viewing experience. Both epic and intimate, it affords viewers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly over the wall as one of the most important musical performances of all time, creating a new album in thin air, in the face of significant personal instability and professional pressures. Perhaps most importantly, it clones The Beatles and dispels myths about their ultimate ending. Given their overwhelming importance, artistically, culturally, personally, we’d rather believe that there was a cataclysm or supervillain that was responsible for the Beatles’ disbandment rather than the reason. mundane, it is easy to understand that four young men who grew up together become adults and mature separately.

Benjamin H. Smith is a New York-based writer, producer, and musician. Follow him on Twitter: @BHSmithNYC.

Clock Return on Disney +

https://decider.com/2021/12/07/the-beatles-get-back-is-epic/ ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ is epic in length but intimate in the portrait of a band cracked at the seams

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