On the basis of the Beatles’ swan-song 1970 film “Let It Be,” the album’s sessions were downright morose. While the idea was to show the group performing live, creating music on the spot, “as nature intended.” But the sessions actually took place early in the morning in the depths of a London winter, and in the film the bandmembers often seem glum, occasionally argue and rarely summon their famed charisma and enthusiasm — and the cavernous soundstage in which they performed cast a dark, murky atmosphere over the film.
Amid the extensive Beatles reissue campaigns, it’s the one project the surviving members have seemed reluctant to return to — until last year, when “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, who had just completed “They Shall Not Grow Old,” a project that saw him cleaning up and colorizing archival World War I film footage, was essentially enlisted him to do the same with the many hours of unused “Let It Be” footage.
An entirely different, much more cheerful narrative will be presented in Jackson’s forthcoming film, on the basis of a several-minute-long preview that was screened for an invite-only audience during Universal Music Group’s Grammy weekend showcase.
After the audience was warned not to photograph or film the footage, longtime Apple Records chief Jeff Jones (who noted that the Beatles had taken the name for their record company long before the computer colossus was formed) said, “We have created a brand-new film that will attempt to bust the myth that the ‘Let It Be’ sessions were the final nail in the Beatles’ coffin.”
And sure enough, an amazing counter-narrative to “Let It Be” film has ensued: It’s brighter both visually and spiritually, with many, many shots of the Beatles joking around, making fun of each other, singing in silly accents and generally indulging in vintage Moptop hijinks.
It also features many scenes of the group rehearsing songs from the “Abbey Road” album — their true swan song, which would be recorded over the following summer — and even rough versions of songs that would appear on solo records.
On the basis of this clip, Beatles fans will lose their minds over this film, which has no release date but seems likely to be released in the spring, in time for the 50 th anniversary of the original “Let It Be” release date in May.