Filmmaker to take new approach to Beatles ‘Let It Be’


By Hillel Italie

AP National Writer

NEW YORK

The Beatles’ farewell documentary “Let It Be” is getting an encore, and a reinvention.

“Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson announced Wednesday that he is making a new film out of some 55 hours of footage – shot in January 1969 – that has never been seen by the public. The original movie, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, came out in 1970, soon after the Beatles broke up and has long been viewed as a chronicle of the band members growing apart. In a Rolling Stone interview given months after the film’s release, John Lennon recalled the making of “Let It Be” as a miserable experience, “set-up by Paul (McCartney) for Paul.

“That is one of the main reasons the Beatles ended. I can’t speak for George, but I pretty damn well know we got fed up of being side-men for Paul,” he said.

But Jackson says the additional footage tells a very different story.

“It’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove,” he said. “Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with.”

The film is being made with the cooperation of McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison. The new project was announced on the 50th anniversary of one of the highlights of “Let It Be,” the Beatles’ spirited performance on the roof of Apple Records in London.

No release date has been set. A remastered version of the original film, which won an Oscar for best original score, also is planned.

In 1969, the movie was meant to show the Beatles turning away from the psychedelic tricks of “Sgt. Pepper” as they jam on new songs such as “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Get Back.” But the Beatles seem far older and wearier than the joyous moptops of a few years earlier. Harrison briefly walked out during filming and on camera argues with McCartney over a proposed guitar part. Harrison would later blame tension with McCartney and unhappiness with Lennon’s then-new relationship with Ono, who appears in the movie.

“Paul wanted nobody to play on his songs until he decided how it should go. For me it was like: ‘What am I doing here? This is painful!’” he said in an interview for a 1990s video anthology of the Beatles.

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