Movie Review: Newly Remastered “The Beatles: Let It Be” 1970 Documentary Serves as Companion Piece to “Get Back”

Tomorrow will see the release of the newly remastered edition of the 1970 documentary The Beatles: Let It Be, and Laughing Place was given early access to a screener of the film. Below are my thoughts on this release.

Let It Be was shot in early 1969 and released theatrically in May of 1970, but has never been issued on DVD or Blu-ray, making this Disney+ release a momentous occasion for Beatles fans, who were already treated to a much longer miniseries version utilizing the same raw footage and directed by Peter Jackson a few years ago, entitled The Beatles: Get Back. Let It Be serves as an interesting companion piece to that series, in that it retains a lot of the same material, especially in its famous third-act rooftop concert (which Jackson allowed to play out in real-time in Get Back) but also makes use of different scenes and songs in its first two-thirds, which are made up of rehearsals and recording sessions, respectively, for the acclaimed 1970 album Let It Be.

Also in contrast to Get Back, the vast majority of Let It Be is performance footage showcasing the four members of The Beatles’ musical talents, while Jackson’s series highlighted a lot more of the discussion and dramatic tension amongst the band’s four members that took place between songs. For example, original director Michael Lindsay-Hogg (Tinsel’s Town) and editor Tony Lenny skip over the brief departure of George Harrison and the noble efforts the other three Beatles made to get him back into the recording studio to finish the album. It should be noted that this streaming release of Let It Be also features a quick modern-day conversation between Jackson and Lindsay-Hogg before the feature, though I didn’t find that to be terribly insightful about the differences between the two films.

Regardless, in this remastered form (which is undoubtedly the best the movie has ever looked or sounded) The Beatles: Let It Be is going to be a must-watch for fans of the band, despite the documentary having been available through unofficial means for decades. At just 80 minutes long (plus roughly ten minutes longer with the tacked-on interview and extended credits), Let It Be at once feels more slight and more easily digestible than Get Back, and despite its shortcomings it still comes across as a key piece of Beatles history.

Much like Get Back, the best thing about Let It Be is simply watching the now-legendary musicians John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr do what they do best in an incredibly intimate setting. They riff, harmonize, and rock out on songs written for Let It Be and Abbey Road, occasionally dipping into rhythm-and-blues classics they grew up on with guest appearances by keyboardist Billy Preston and other familiar faces. The bickering and fractures within the band aren’t as obvious here as they are in the miniseries, though those elements do rear their ugly heads here and there. Ultimately this is another worthwhile peek– with a good number of alternate takes, memorable moments between Beatles, and footage not available elsewhere– at how this powerhouse group functioned in its waning years.

The Beatles: Let It Be will be released tomorrow, May 8th, exclusively via Disney+.

My grade: 4 out of 5 Ringo Starr mustaches.

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Mike Celestino
Mike serves as Laughing Place's lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly "Who's the Bossk?" Star Wars podcast. He's been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.