Don’t Forget: Peter Jackson’s ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ Documentary Series Premieres on Disney Plus on Thanksgiving (How to Watch)

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Rock Cellar Magazine

At long last, it arrives this week. The Beatles: Get Back, the awaited documentary from famed director Peter Jackson.

The six-hour(!) documentary will be presented in three two-hour episodes, splitting the massive project into a documentary series, of sorts. The first episode will premiere on Disney Plus for all subscribers on Thursday, Nov. 25 — Thanksgiving — beginning at 12 a.m. PT (3 a.m. ET).

Here’s a trailer showcasing what to expect from this revealing documentary:

In the works for quite some time and set for release after delays caused in part by the pandemic, the docu-series comes with immense anticipation. Much of that anticipation draws from the more than 57 hours(!) of footage of the Beatles in the studio as they worked on what would become Let It Be.

Geared around the premiere of the documentary, Rock Cellar put together two new features regarding that fractious era of the Beatles’ time together and the art that they created under pretty unique circumstances.

How to Watch The Beatles: Get Back on Disney Plus

The documentary episodes will be available to subscribers at this link. If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up at this link.

In a new Rock Cellar conversation, Kevin Harrington — who served among the Beatles’ team as an equipment manager and roadie during this time, recalls his experience and perspective from video and album sessions, which were somewhat stark in contrast when comparing Twickenham to Apple Studios:

Rock Cellar: During the sessions/filming for what became the Let It Be album, you spent time at both Twickenham Studios and Apple Studios, was the vibe and atmosphere different?

Kevin Harrington: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, you’ve got to remember that I was in the studio with them while they were recording the White Album. So I spent five months at Abbey Road with them. I got used to them and they got used to me. And it was intimate and there was an atmosphere. Then when you’re going into Twickenham you’re in this big cavernous sound studio and you’ve got all of these unknown people filming and recording, and it just doesn’t feel right.

It’s not a creative atmosphere. It’s cold and there’s no fun. There’s expectations, plus the sessions started early in the morning as opposed to the Abbey Road sessions. It was like 10 in the morning or something ridiculous. They never went into Abbey Road at that time back in those later days. They would always record in the evenings. So going into Apple Studios, it was a nice, cozy atmosphere.

I think when this new Peter Jackson film comes that’s been redone, I’m hoping that everybody will see that the atmosphere changes. I was there and felt it immediately. At Twickenham, they were trying to get a group togetherness and intimacy feel that comes with making records with the four of them. But then you’ve got an audience of people walking in and out, cameramen, a sound man. It’s cold. Because it was such a big vast space, I sat a long way away from them, whereas at EMI (Abbey Road) I would only be about 15, 20 feet away, but there I was 35, 40 feet away and you can just feel there’s nothing there.

They huddled around in a group, whereas in the studio they’re more free moving about. By the time they moved over to Apple Studios it became more intimate. It became more like the Beatles that I knew, even though I hadn’t known them for that long, maybe a year and a half by that point. It was a big relief when they moved the sessions to those studios.

In that same piece, Giles Martin discussed his work on the remixed version of Let It Be that was recently released as a Special Edition box set:

Elsewhere, photographer Ethan A. Russell recalls his time being a ‘fly on the wall’ for the rooftop gig and the band’s recording and film sessions.

Rock Cellar: Ethan, you were witness to 30 days of the Beatles recording and filming. What’s the story your photographs tell?

Ethan Russell: You know, it’s really more show than tell. I mean, that’s just the answer, right? There’s a lot of layers to what was going on with them at that period of time in particular. I literally was this young kid that came off the street [laughs] from San Francisco that managed to find myself there. And so for me, it was a lot about just being in their presence.

But then their presence was initially in Twickenham Film Studios, which turned out to be not supportable for a variety of reasons, and then they moved into the basement studio at Apple. So just from my point of view, my experience was working with not only the biggest act — they were bigger than an act. They were the biggest thing on the planet as far as I was concerned, and most people I know.

With my pictures, I don’t set stuff up. I didn’t then, and I didn’t for most of my career, I let the viewer be there. Simple as that. So if I’m four feet from the Beatles, so are you, and I think that’s the value my pictures bring.

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