Let It Be, 2021 vs 1969 film Version

There’s been considerable interest, at least for me, in the upcoming release of the new Let It Be documentary/film.

Way back in 1968/9, Michael Lindsay-Hogg was hired by The Beatles to document the process of making their next album, which wound up being Let It Be.

The album, and film, were for years thought to be fraught with issues. The album’s creation featured friction between the members of the band and, when they were done making the album, seemed to feel the end product wasn’t worth revisiting until later. They would wind up making another album, Abbey Road, and Let It Be wound up being given to Phil Spector who added his famous (or, going by Paul McCartney’s reaction to the whole thing, infamous) “wall of sound”. That album would be released as their “last” album, even though they made it before Abbey Road.

Meanwhile, the Michael Lindsay-Hogg documentary was released in a very limited run and, it appeared, The Beatles themselves weren’t all that happy with the final product there either. The film essentially was locked up in a vault and released once more in the 1980’s and hasn’t been seen since.

Director Peter Jackson, the man responsible for the Lord of the Rings movies, was offered the entire 56 hours of footage Mr. Lindsay-Hogg filmed during that time and will soon release a brand new 6 hour long documentary featuring that material.

Over at Rollingstone.com, Brian Hiatt offers a fascinating -though brief- interview with the 81 year old Michael Lindsay-Hogg regarding his original work and his experiences with The Beatles as well as his opinion of the documentary he released versus the one that Peter Jackson is about to release. It’s a fascinating read:

Original Let It Be Director Defends His Film: “I Don’t Care” That Ringo Hates It

Now, to begin, that headline is far juicier than it need be. At the risk of SPOILING the interview, the headline makes it sound like Mr. Lindsay-Hogg has some kind of anger against Ringo which, if you read the interview, is clearly not there. He feels like Ringo’s impressions of the original film may be dated and that he likely hasn’t seen it in a very long time and may not be quite remembering it for what it was.

Further, Mr. Lindsay-Hogg seems to be perfectly content with the idea of Peter Jackson doing “his” version of the documentary with Mr. Lindsay-Hogg’s footage. Mr. Lindsay-Hogg feels like he did the best he could at that time and with the demands for a 1 and 1/2 hour film.

Also interesting -and again, I know I’m SPOILING things- Mr. Lindsay-Hogg appears to be the person who suggested The Beatles have their famous concert on the rooftops of the building, which served as the climax of his movie!

Fascinating, fascinating stuff.

In spite of my spoiling things, if you are a fan of The Beatles and interested in reading about his thoughts on the film and what happened behind the scenes while making it, please give it a read. At the very least your jaw will drop when he describes his first meeting with the band… and what John Lennon brought in for them to hear!!!

Different times indeed, my friends.

But there is one portion of the interview in particular I found especially intriguing, so much so that I want to present it here.

For many years its been noted by historians that The Beatles’ public facade was a creation made to make them look like pleasant chaps who were witty and funny and just really, really nice guys.

The reality, as many have pointed out, was quite different. The Beatles hailed from Liverpool and, again as many have noted, it was a very rough neighborhood. Further, when they first set out to play clubs in Germany, they would appear at many very rough clubs. I recall the father of a friend of mine many years ago said they were in a club in Germany (he was German) when The Beatles played and there was plenty of shouting, hurling of drinks, and fights, and The Beatles (who at that point hadn’t yet recruited Ringo Starr) were very much at home in this very rough place.

Anyway, if you read the interview, you get to this part:

(Question): As it is, the brief moments of tension you do show (in your film) between Paul and George are among the most famous Beatles footage ever captured.
(Michael Lindsay-Hogg): A lot of people were surprised. Because the Beatles had been portrayed as the moptops, that they were just fucking adorable. In real life, they were tough. This just goes back to where they came from. Liverpool is a tough town. I wouldn’t particularly want to run into Paul McCartney in a dark alley, if he didn’t like me.

I find that final line about running into Paul McCartney in a dark alley absolutely hilarious.

Not that I don’t believe Mr. Lindsay-Hogg, quite the contrary!

I find it astonishing -yet all too believable- that The Beatles and their outward persona that we’re all so used to is nothing more than a fabrication, that the actual Beatles were rough, cut throat types who you simply DO NOT mess with.

But seriously, the idea of Paul freaking McCartney being someone you don’t want to run into in a dark alley…?!

As I said, it really strikes me as hilarious… though it probably isn’t!