6 Reasons To Watch Peter Jackson's 8-Hour Beatles Docuseries on Disney+!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past week or so, you surely have heard that Disney+ recently released an epic 3-part documentary about The Beatles helmed by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. And unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, you have at least heard of The Beatles and have a passing understanding of why this project has created so much buzz.
A project FOUR YEARS in the making, Jackson was given full access to over 60 hours of film footage of another documentary shot in 1969 of the legendary band recording their 12th and final album Let It Be, and in true Jackson fashion, “The Beatles: Get Back” clocks in at a whopping 8 hours long, with the second episode alone nearly 3 hours!
Yes, it’s a lot. But it’s also totally worth it. Here’s why!
1. Like it or not, The Beatles are Legends for a reason.
There are plenty of folks out there who love to seem cool and contrarian and declare that The Beatles “weren’t even that great”, and despite just having bad taste, it’s just plain wrong. Even if you don’t care for The Beatles’ music (and many don’t), you simply cannot disregard how utterly groundbreaking and important these guys are not just to music but pop culture in general. There was absolutely nobody like them when they broke out in the early-‘60s, and for the ensuing decade they continued to break the mold and stretch the limits of what music is and could be, and generations of budding musicians would take their cues from them and run with it. Without The Beatles, a lot of the artists you love today would not exist. Even if they don’t count The Beatles as a direct influence, many of the artists that did influence them would, and the artists that influenced THEM, and so on and so on. Think of it like this – the earliest cars might seem antiquated and impractical to you today, but if they had never existed, you wouldn’t be driving that shiny new Tesla right now. See?
2. Their creative process is fascinating to witness.
So maybe you’re not a fan of The Beatles specifically but you’re a fan of music in general. This documentary is a fascinating look into the creative process of musicians. While The Beatles are widely considered musical geniuses who just magically conjured countless classics over breakfast, they are really regular dudes just trying to be creative. The documentary shows them discovering new riffs, struggling to find the perfect lyrics to accompany their harmonies, trying to decide on the best arrangements for their bare-bones tunes, etc. At the end of the day, they are just like any creative person trying to be productive.
3. One of the most epic bromances of all time.
Another fascinating aspect of the film is just observing the friendships between the four lads from Liverpool, England, and seeing how they interact with each other. Chief of among these is the epic bromance between the band’s frontmen, Sir Paul McCartney and John Lennon (R.I.P.). The two met and became bandmates when they were just teenagers, and honestly much of their interactions and goofing off with each other are very relatable to anyone who’s had a childhood bff that lasted into adulthood. They understand each other so completely that much of their conversations are almost unintelligible to us, and they can often communicate with each other with just a look. At one point in the movie, Paul tells someone to ask John about something, saying he knows exactly what he’ll say. John is asked and indeed says just what Paul said he would. It’s also very bittersweet, though, because this movie takes place at a time when the Fab Four were starting to outgrow each other, not just professionally but personally. They have all developed different priorities – John is focused on his relationship with Yoko Ono, George Harrison (R.I.P.) wants to do his music on his own terms, and Ringo Starr is exploring an acting career; Paul is seemingly the only one invested in keeping The Beatles alive, and the dawning realization that this could be it for them as a group nearly pushes him (and me!) to tears. It’s the story of a deteriorating friendship that anyone can relate to. Even so, the love these 4 guys have for each other is undeniable.
4. They were SO. YOUNG.
It’s hard to wrap your mind around – and indeed I had to keep reminding myself of this while watching the series – but these guys were all still in the late-20s at the time this footage was shot! Paul was 27, John and Ringo were 28, George was 26. To put that in some context, Harry Styles and Justin Bieber are 27, and Machine Gun Kelly and The Weeknd are 31. Now, while Let It Be was by no means the end of any of the Beatles members’ careers, they would never again enjoy the same insane success and creative output, and it’s so easy to watch this doc and feel like you’re watching a bunch of aging rockers past their prime trying to squeeze out one last kickass album before retiring. But they were not even THIRTY!!! In span of less than a decade, these four dudes managed to completely turn music on its head and churn out a music catalogue that is still regarded as some of the all-time best; they literally did more before the age of 30 than most musicians manage to accomplish in their entire lifetimes.
5. Billy Preston.
That's it, that's the tweet. The man is an actual ray of sunshine.
6. The music still holds up.
Like it or not, The Beatles music is still some of the most unique and innovative stuff you’ll ever listen to. While their early poppy jams like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” feels very old-fashioned to some, their later works remain completely mind-blowing and would not feel out of place on Top 40 radio today. Go listen to Rubber Soul or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and just try to remind yourself that this stuff was written and recorded almost 60 YEARS AGO. Listen to “Tomorrow Never Knows”, “Rain”, "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away", “She Said She Said”, “We Can Work It Out”, “Norwegian Wood”, or any of the songs in this documentary (or even my personal fave “I Am The Walrus”), and then look me in the eye and tell me these guys are irrelevant. (P.S. The Beatles also pretty much invented the concept of the music video, so... you're welcome for that too.)
If nothing else, the hype and inclusion on a platform like Disney+ will allow more younger generations to discover the magic that is The Beatles. Like they sing in “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band”: “They’ve been going in and out of style / But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile…”