Peter Jackson is at the helm of a new Beatles documentary.
The Lord of the Rings director has the blessing of Sir Paul McCartney to put together the film using 55 hours of unseen, in-studio footage from early 1969 recorded for the 1970 feature film Let It Be.
The news was revealed today by Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Ltd (Jackson’s production company), on the 50th anniversary of the band’s famous rooftop gig on top of the Apple Records offices in London.
“The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage and 140 hours of audio made available to us ensure this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamt about,” Jackson said in a statement. “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.”
Over the years there have been reports that the footage recorded, 18-months before the band split, showed the tension between the members but Jackson says that it is not entirely the case.
“I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” he said. “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 recently earned praise for his World War I documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, for which he used special techniques to restore archival footage and it is expected he will use similar methods for this Beatles documentary too.
Let It Be was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and followed the band’s writing of their final studio album. It was released in 1970 on VHS and laserdisc but its planned re-release in the early 2000s was reportedly scuppered by McCartney and Ringo Starr because they felt it focused too much on the tension between the bandmates.
A restored version will now be released after Jackson’s film comes out, according to Apple’s statement, though a date has not been confirmed.