We subscribed to Disney+ last night, so that we could watch Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back. I had thought it was going to be a movie, but it turns out it’s a miniseries: three two-hour episodes. The second drops today, and the third tomorrow.
It’s built from hours of footage that were recorded for the Let It Be documentary back in 1969. I remember watching that once and being disappointed by it. The main problem was that it was presented as a fly-on-the-wall thing, but the fly was aurally challenged.
In other words, you couldn’t make out much of the chatter between the guys. That, almost as much as hearing them rehearsing and working on the songs, was kind of the point.
If you were making a documentary like that today you’d probably have all the band members wearing microphone packs, as the participants in reality TV shows do, so that what they said would make it to storage. Back then, though, even if that had been practical,1 it was far from obvious that the individual Beatles would all have complied. Plus we’d want to hear from Brian,3 and Mal, and Glyn, and the other George, as well as John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
That’s a lot of microphone packs. So of course, the original producers relied on ambient miking. It’s fine when the speaker is near one of the vocal mics, or when they’re right under a boom, but otherwise… well, as I say, Let It Be was a frustrating experience.
However, technology has come a long, long, way in the succeeding fifty years. Every word in this is clear as a bell,2 undoubtedly with the help of modern digital audio editing. It’s slightly ironic to note that one of the first things the band say is that the place they’re working in — a warehouse in Twickenham — is acoustically bad. An odd choice of a place in which to work on writing and performing songs.
Anyway, as of the cliffhanger ending of episode one, this series is fucking amazing! Totally brilliant!
But only if you’re a fan. If you only take a passing interest in The Beatles, or (weirdly) none at all, you probably shouldn’t waste your time on this.
The Disneyfication of Christmas
Disney have made a genius move in launching this when they did. We will be far, far, from the only people who took out a subscription to watch this, with the intention of cancelling it after a month.
A month. What’s a month after yesterday, the 25th of November? Oh yes.
All those subscriptions that are due to renew on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? So many of them won’t be cancelled, either just to have things to watch over Christmas, or to keep the kids happy, or because people will forget with everything else going on.
I don’t mind, I’ll probably try to catch up on some of the newer Marvel and Star Wars stuff, of which there is just far, far, too much now, in my humble opinion.
But there’s not too much Beatles.
It wouldn’t, because they would have had to be wired microphones ↩
The odd line is given a subtitle, but I think those are more about Scouse accents than inaudibility. ↩
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