Peter Jackson’s latest project tasks him with revealing the mystery surrounding the Beatles’ last album, Let It Be, and its creation.
The film will be based on over 50 hours of previously unreleased footage of John, Paul, George, and Ringo in the studio in January 1969, around a year before the band broke up, and 18 months before the album that those studio sessions spawned was released in May 1970. Coupled with 140 hours of audio, the footage is the first of its kind. It chronicles the Beatles’ creative process, whereas most footage of the band is of concerts, movies, and interviews. Jackson hopes the movie will help detach the Let It Be album and movie from the turbulence surrounding the band at the time.
“I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” says Jackson. “After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama — but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating — it’s funny, uplifting, and surprisingly intimate.”
Jackson loves a challenge, and after the success of his World War I film, They Shall Not Grow Old, he has deemed the most tumultuous time in the history of the most famous band worthy of being his next project. The Lord of the Rings director hopes the film will be an indispensable part of the Beatles canon.
“The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage and 140 hours of audio made available to us, ensures this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamt about,” adds the Oscar winner. “It’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together.”
Jackson will be working with his They Shall Not Grow Old partners, producer Clare Olssen, and editor Jabez Olssen. The footage will be restored by Park Road Post of Wellington, New Zealand, using techniques developed for the World War I documentary film, which itself has been nominated for a BAFTA for Best Documentary. The untitled Beatles documentary is currently in production. No release date has been announced yet.