6 people explain why Let It Be will get a proper airing in Britain this week

A restored version of the classic psychedelic Beatles movie will be released this Friday, but it wasn’t until a suggestion from historian Neil MacGregor in the 1980s that Beatles footage actually got a genuine…

6 people explain why Let It Be will get a proper airing in Britain this week

A restored version of the classic psychedelic Beatles movie will be released this Friday, but it wasn’t until a suggestion from historian Neil MacGregor in the 1980s that Beatles footage actually got a genuine airing — 50 years after the iconic reels were first shot.

Clive James: “I am sorry if I blew a hole in anyone’s tie by suggesting that the Beatles’ first film, February 1964’s Let It Be, should be shown on British television, but I thought: why not? It looks so very marvellous – just as fans wanted. Except, I believe, they did not have the numbers. But we should have this special restored version this week.”

Peter Jackson: “I’m so amazed. When I was an archivist at New Zealand Television, I was approached by a friend who had in his film collection a VHS compilation, an album of the Beatles’ film stills — the picture – and memorabilia like the packaging and the postcards. Someone had to scan it in to try and extract them for this project. The fact that a colleague I was working with had also worked at VHS archive records in New Zealand –”

Neil MacGregor: “Oh God. Here we go…

(Applause)

But I was in the mood to do something and I think they were too: as they were no longer engaged by recording studio – the actual recording of the tracks.”

Peter Jackson: “So this was by a friend of mine who had, actually, been employed by one of the guys in the London Picture Repository who had kept the original negatives. I was friends with Clive James for a long time.”

Clive James: “You know, a film historian, I think.”

Peter Jackson: “No, I mean a journalist. I hadn’t thought much about it before, I think because it wasn’t so easy to get hold of at that time, and because they were obviously dealing with copyright issues.”

Fellow Welsh legend Gerard Butler, credited as the film’s scriptwriter, was also skeptical: “When he asked me to come along I was completely dazed. I knew nothing about the film apart from what I’d read in the papers. I’d been pitched the kind of Scorsese film. Like Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, so it was a little daunting at first. But I’m pleased to say it came up like a rocket.”

And though the film was not, actually, made in Memphis, as originally reported, it was a big hit when it was first shown on Australian television in the late 1970s. Jackson says he’d never seen a full edit of Let It Be until he re-watched the program during the editing process for the restoration: “I’d never seen a whole film until this day.”

From the blockbuster to the projection – archive footage shot by the BBC, the Beatles, and the film’s director, Geoff Miller.

(Photo: Ollie Upton/BBC)

Read the full story in The Guardian.

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