A scene from The Beatles: Get Back.

Beatles fans may straight-up lose their minds—in the greatest of ways—while watching The Beatles: Get Back, a documentary series that will have those who thought they knew everything about the Beatles constantly picking their jaws up off of the floor.

Man, oh man, this is a gift from music lover’s heaven. There they are, the Fab Four, gabbing and rehearsing for nearly eight hours (over three parts) as they make the album that ultimately became Let It Be. Director Peter Jackson reportedly had access 60 hours of unseen footage from Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s Let It Be, a documentary released in 1970. Jackson has said his initial cut was 18 hours. I WANT THE 18 HOUR CUT!

Now, consider yourself warned: If you are not a Beatles fan, the chance to watch them rehearsing for eight hours might not be your cup of tea. (BTW … the Beatles drank a shitload of tea, as evidenced by them constantly slurping the stuff in this film.)

Originally, the Beatles had intended to record an album live, called Get Back, over two weeks, and then finish with a live performance. However, those plans got tweaked a bit. Infighting, including George Harrison quitting at one point, changed the project to a recording at their Apple Studio (the eventual Let It Be album) and an impromptu rooftop concert.

The original Let It Be documentary (out of print for years) was 80 minutes long. By the 20-minute mark, the band had already moved out of their Twickenham studios to their cozy Apple studio, and the concert footage was abbreviated. This series gives us more than three hours at Twickenham, as well as the full rooftop concert.

The footage is all concentrated Beatles goodness. The music is great, and the conversations between the band members tell the story of their camaraderie, their tensions, their hilarious humor and their roles within the band.

Paul McCartney is the Beatle most determined to keep the band together while sticking to a work routine. He’s simultaneously the group’s biggest pain in the butt and biggest heart. John Lennon is perhaps the most aloof, sometimes in a drug haze. (Paul, notably, gets upset with the altered state of his friend; I imagine a lot of the discarded footage might’ve been of him passed out.) George Harrison tries his best to push some of his tunes but gets brushed aside (and it’s not surprising that he leaves the band for a few days). Ringo complains about his health a bit, and looks despondent and sleepy for long stretches, but he rallies for good humor when things get a little dark.

Yes, Yoko Ono is present during most of the rehearsal time, and Paul actually speaks quite positively about her presence. He also brings his own wife, Linda, to hang out, and even does a few jams with the wailing Yoko. She’s not the toxic presence decades of stories have suggested. She actually fits in quite nicely and provides balance for Lennon.

There’s a moment when McCartney speaks about the future of his band—when just he and Ringo are present for a rehearsal—and it’s stunning. Meanwhile, Lennon, no matter his mood, is always hilarious. Almost everything he says in this movie, even when he’s being testy, is pretty damned funny. Seeing all of this new material of him just seems too good to be true, even when things get a little messy. It’s literally hours of new time to spend with Lennon.

As for the music, you get many, many versions of the tunes that showed up on Let It Be, along with the boys trying out some songs that wound up on solo albums (“All Things Must Pass,” “Gimme Some Truth”) and Abbey Road (“She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” “Something,” “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”). Perhaps the most amazing musical moment in the film consists of McCartney just spilling out the lick that would become Get Back while waiting for Lennon to show up—you see the song being born on the spot.

Get Back shows that the band members weren’t constantly fighting with each other at these sessions. If anything, the boys put a little too much pressure on themselves and probably should’ve just taken a holiday. These guys put out their entire catalog in the span of seven years. It takes most bands these days four years to put out one album.

After a delay resulting in Abbey Road actually coming out before it—and, unfortunately, the breakup of the band—the Let It Be album was released under a dark cloud, complete with a bunch of strings added by Phil Spector. The original Let It Be film, a very condensed version of the events that led up to the rooftop concert, played as a sort of obituary for the band.

This film doesn’t cover any of the Spector sessions, nor does it include any of the final straws that brought about the breakup of the band. What it does show is that the band members had some life, and lots of fun, while making the album, despite the bad patches. The Beatles: Get Back is, and will always be, one of the greatest rock documentaries ever made.

The Beatles: Get Back is now streaming on Disney+.

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