Peter Jackson to direct new Beatles documentary from unseen Let It Be footage

Film will be based around 55 hours of unreleased video recordings made during 'Let It Be' sessions

The Beatles performing on the rooftop of the Apple Records building in London on January 30th, 1969. Photrograph: Hulton Archive

The Beatles performing on the rooftop of the Apple Records building in London on January 30th, 1969. Photrograph: Hulton Archive

 

A new Beatles film with hours of unseen footage is being made by Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson.

The film will be based around 55 hours of never-released footage of the Fab Four in the studio, shot in 1969.

These studio sessions produced The Beatles’ Grammy Award winning album Let It Be, with its Academy Award winning title song. The album was eventually released 18 months later in May 1970, several months after the band had broken up.

Speaking about the new film Jackson said: “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 — 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.”

According to the Beatles website, the footage was originally planned for a TV special. News of the film was released on Wednesday the 50th anniversary of the band’s performance on the roof of Apple’s Savile Row London office, which is included in the footage and is expected to the film’s climax.

While there is plenty of existing footage of The Beatles during the 1960s at concerts, interviews and movies - this new production will contain the only footage of note that documents the four in the studio.

Having been released in the months following The Beatles’ breakup, the Let It Be album and movie have often been viewed in the context of the struggle the band was going through at that time.

Director Peter Jackson has teamed up again with his They Shall Not Grow Old partners. Photograph: Toby Melville / Reuters
Director Peter Jackson has teamed up again with his They Shall Not Grow Old partners. Photograph: Toby Melville / Reuters

“I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” continues 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”.

“I’m thrilled and honoured to have been entrusted with this remarkable footage - making the movie will be a sheer joy.”

Jackson has teamed up again with his They Shall Not Grow Old partners, producer Clare Olssen and editor Jabez Olssen. The footage will be restored with techniques developed for the first World War documentary film which has been nominated for a BAFTA for best documentary.

The untitled film is currently in production and the release date will be announced in due course. This film is being made with the full co-operation of Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon, and Olivia Harrison.

In addition to the Jackson directed film, a restored version of the original Let It Be movie directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg will also be made available. – PA

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