The Beatles

Peter Jackson to direct new documentary

Wednesday 13th March 2019

The Beatles, 1969. Photo courtesy of Apple Corps Ltd.

"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.” - Peter Jackson

Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson (Lord Of The Rings) and The Beatles recently announced that they would be collaborating on a new film. It will be based on 55 hours of previously unreleased archive footage from the 1968 recording sessions which resulted in The Beatles' final album 'Let It Be'. An album that was not released until 18 months later in May 1970 - shortly after The Beatles had disbanded.

Jackson will be working with producer Clare Olssen and Editor Jabez Olssen. He previously worked with both of them on 'They Shall Not Grow Old' the BAFTA nominated World War One documentary. Techniques developed to restore footage for the recent acclaimed WW1 documentary will also be used on the archive Beatles footage used.  

The as yet untitled film promises to uncloud the mystery surrounding the band at the time, with tension high and relationships stretched between the four band members. That said, Jackson added that he was "relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth. 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.”

Peter Jackson's involvement with the film may spark a sense of pleasing serendipity in the astute Beatles fan. In the late '60s, following 'A Hard Day's Night' in '64 and 'Help!' in '65, the band wanted to make a third feature film based on J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy 'The Lord Of Rings'. Reportedly, John Lennon would have starred as Gollum, Paul McCartney as Frodo, Ringo as Sam and George as Gandalf. The Fab Four wanted a fellow icon, Stanley Kubrick, to direct it. Kubrick turned down the offer stating that the books were too complex to faithfully adapt for the big screen. Kubrick opted to continue working on two of his finest films '2001: A Space Oddysey' (1968) and 'A Clockwork Orange' (1971). Tolkien still owned the film rights to his books at the time and refused to allow The Beatles to make the film ensuring the curious project would never get off the ground. Tolkien eventually did sell the film rights and in the early 2000s, Peter Jackson released his critically acclaimed, multi-award winning adaptations.

The film, currently in production, is being made with the full co-operation of Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon, and Olivia Harrison and will climax with The Beatles’ legendary performance on the roof of Apple's Savile Row London office which took place a little over 50 years ago on 31st January 1969.

A release date for the film will be announced in due course and following the release of this film, a fully restored version of the original 'Let It Be' by Michael Lindsay-Hogg will also be made available.

Find out more about the album and film at The Beatles website: 

Read our 50th-anniversary features for Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The White Album:

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