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The Beatles’ iconic rooftop gig in 1970 ‘Let It Be’ documentary “almost didn’t happen”
The Beatles‘ classic 1970 documentary film Let It Be was premiered in London earlier this week (May 7), before arriving on Disney+. Speaking at the press launch, creators explained how one of the most vital scenes – and significant moments in music history – never happened.The film was screened in front of an audience at the Curzon Mayfair which included original recording engineer Glyn Johns and Giles Martin (son of legendary Beatles producer George Martin, who remixed the music in Let It Be), Louis Theroux, James Bay, The Lightning Seeds frontman Ian Broudie and Captain America and Indiana Jones actor Toby Jones.The documentary, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, was first released in cinemas 54 years ago and has been difficult to obtain since primarily because the original master tapes were stolen from Apple Corps shortly after the film was made.Speaking in a Q&A hosted by former Radio 1 DJ Edith Bowman, Jonathan Clyde producer of the film and director of production at Apple Corps, said: “When we first started talking about [restoring] it with [head of Apple Corps] Neil Aspinall in 2000, he said rather unenthusiastically, ‘I suppose we’d better do something about Let It Be’.“But the problem was that the master sound, that’s 450 to 500, 15 minute reels of master sound from the 20-odd days of shooting, had been stolen from Apple [Corps] in the early ’70s.”He continued: “So in truth, there was not a lot we could do except whoever it was who pilched them was licensing them to bootleggers who were then bootlegging vinyl and CD box sets.
Worth the wait? The Beatles’ farewell film ‘Let It Be’ hits streaming 54 years later: review
finally available to stream on Disney+ this week.Was it worth the 54-year wait?Well, yes — and no.Some context is needed here first: If you watched “The Beatles: Get Back” — the three-part, eight-hour docuseries directed by none other than Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson that also premiered on Disney+ in 2021 — you’ve already seen a lot of this.And seen it in the kind of exhaustive detail — from the same footage that Jackson used from “Let It Be” director Michael Lindsay-Hogg — that you can probably break down the level of scruffiness in Paul McCartney’s faux-badass beard.But thankfully — whether or not you’ve already watched the tedious-at-times “Get Back” — this is only 80 minutes versus eight hours of your time.For anyone but the biggest of Beatlemaniacs, that math is math-ing.But here’s the real difference: Whereas “Get Back” captured every bit of Liverpudlian shade, side-eye and Yoko Ono rock-blocking, this “Let It Be” is all about the music that was made in the slow fade of the Fab Four.For most of this film — which documents The Beatles working out songs for what would turn out to be their final album, 1970’s “Let It Be,” in January 1969 — it’s just like being a little four-winged insect on the wall of those sessions at their Apple Corps headquarters in London.Rehearsing, working out songs and just jamming — even with all the mounting tension which is actually more between McCartney and George Harrison than Sir Paul and John Lennon (for all those who still blame Ono for the Beatles’ breakup) — it’s a magical mystery tour behind the scenes of what many consider to be the greatest band of all time.When McCartney and Lennon are in such easy harmony and camaraderie on “Two Of Us” — with the