December 7, 2021

The Lenient Critic Podcast Episode 2: Get Back

Peter Jackson brings us a new, unfiltered look at the Beatles in the Disney+ documentary Get Back. Tim Wood joins Rowan in breaking down its historical significance, effortless charm and the everlasting weirdness of John Lennon. 

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Below is printed my written review for Get Back, originally drafted for SiftPop.

After some experience with restoring old footage and reconstructing history in 2018’s They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson has graced our screens (this time on Disney+) with the biggest treat any Beatles fan could ask for.

The Beatles: Get Back is a comprehensive documentary about the making of their album Let It Be (done in under a month, all leading up to their iconic rooftop concert) from 60 hours of video footage and over 150 hours of audio and four years of hard work on Jackson’s part. What I love most about it is that Get Back is far from a traditional documentary — it’s not burdened by a narrator or a specific direction, it just allows their creative process to flourish, while also giving us some insight as to the causes of the band’s inevitable breakup. Even though it may seem dull at points, I find it to be enormous fun just to watch the Beatles be the Beatles.

I’m listening to the Beatles as I write this review. Why? Not only because they’re the world’s greatest rock band, but Get Back made me want to explore some of their songs and albums that I may not have heard before. Aside from the writing of such pieces as “Get Back,” “Don’t Let Me Down” and “I Me Mine,” we get to bear witness as the Fab Four draft very early versions of some other soon-to-be-famous bits of music, as well as playing around with other popular music of the time. Remember, this was the very beginning of 1969, and the world was a very different place. Get Back immerses you in that world, offering historical context for some of their niche references. It really does feel like stepping into another time period.

Get Back offers a modern audience (especially ones like myself, born this century) the chance that very few had: the chance to hang out with the Beatles, to be a fly on the wall while they craft some of the most well-known rock songs in history. We get to see them for who they really are, not just their public personas: they curse, they joke about taboo subjects, they hang out with their girlfriends and all laugh together. That’s the best part about it — the unbridled happiness they all bring each other shows just how far they’ve come, and how comfortable they are making music. It’s truly a delight to see.

John, Paul, George and Ringo have already gone down in history, but The Beatles: Get Back allows us to go back in time and get to know them a little more. This is a must-see for those with any interest in the Beatles.

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