Nowhere near as miserable as I remember it: The Beatles – Let It Be reviewed

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Beatles lore has long held that the film Let It Be was a depressing portrait of the band falling apart. According to the same lore, that’s why Peter Jackson’s Get Back was such a revelation. Revisiting Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s footage of the group at work in January 1969, Jackson discovered there was far more joy around than anyone suspected – including the surviving Beatles.

Yoko remains a darkly brooding presence (the revisionism that sees her as benign needs its own revision)

All of which, it now turns out, only goes to prove the ever-reliable power of suggestion. I vaguely remember seeing Let It Be on TV in the 1970s, before it disappeared until last week – and finding it as miserable as I already knew everybody said it was. Except that it really isn’t. Having started watching the film on Disney+ in the mental equivalent of the brace position, I soon found myself successively giving way to relief, delight and a familiar sense of awe at all the Beatles achieved, and at how quickly they achieved it.

At one point, Paul looks back with amusement on the band’s time in India with the Maharishi, gently ribbing John for his uncharacteristic lack of scepticism. This long-vanished era, you then realise with a jolt, was less than a year before. Likewise, when the group exuberantly play rock’n’roll songs from their Hamburg days, it’s hard to believe that those days – the ones before they revolutionised pop music at least twice – were only as far from them as the Brexit referendum is from us.

Source: James Walton/


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