“Let It Be”, the documentary about the recording of the Beatles’ final album, has never been released on DVD. I’ve always heard the reason was because the movie showed all the strains on the Beatles in their final years, most notably the resentment about John’s relationship about Yoko. But after actually seeing the film, it’s a far happier and more relaxed flick than that. So what’s the real story why it’s taking forever to end up on video? And what do you think of the film?
Why hasn’t it been released on DVD? Because Paul, Yoko, and Ringo aren’t dead. Once they’re not around to say “Not on my life! No fucking way!” some beneficiary of their estates will decide they need to cash in and talk the other beneficiaries into green lighting it.
The Beatles hated it. They hated filming it in the studio at Shepperton. It was cold and they had to get there too damn early in the morning. They hated having to fix up the basement of Apple and having to clean up the mess Magic Alex left there so they could finish filming it there. 3 of the four hated Yoko Ono being there. George hated Paul lecturing him on how to play the guitar that he quit the band. He later came back. John hated it so much he walked out and never returned for any more filming (I Me Mine was recorded by the remaining 3). It’s a documentary of very bad memories for them that they don’t/didn’t want to be reminded of. And that’s just the raw filming, before any editing happened.
Frankly, I don’t know how they managed to record “Abbey Road” after that. The canon is they wanted to go out on a good album.
They never bothered to attend the premiere when it was first released. And Phil Spector’s butchering edit of Let It Be and Long And Winding Road was the last straw for Macca.
So, if you want to enjoy a Beatles movie, watch A Hard Day’s Night.
Also if anyone wants to watch it via that You Tube link, do so quickly because this gets posted and yanked down all of the time.
They knew it would be their last album. So it was easier to go to the studio and work, since if someone pissed someone off, they would think, “This is going to end soon.” In addition, there was less pressure than with Get Back – no cameras, just music.
This does not actually make that much sense to me. After all, Paul and Ringo do not have to watch the movie, or pay any attention to it, really, just because it gets released on DVD, and they released it at the time (or, rather , a year or so after it was actually filmed), when the bad memories would have been much more fresh and painful for all four. Furthermore, IIRC (I haven’t seen it since its initial release) if anyone is made to look at all bad in it, it is John and perhaps George, not Paul or Ringo. If Paul were so sensitive about reviving bad memories from that period, how did he get through overseeing the making of the Let it Be: Naked album (a big improvement on the Spectorized version, I think) a few years ago?
I have wondered, however, if events surrounding the release of the Let it Be movie and album (even more than the original filming and recording) might have been what triggered their final breakup. After all, as you say, they did get it together enough to make the excellent Abbey Road after filming and recording Let it Be, but Let it Be (movie and record) was actually released well after Abbey Road, and was quite quickly followed by their breakup. (If they had intended Abbey Road to be their farewell, so they went out on a high, surely they would have arranged to release it after Let it Be. They did not.)
Abbey Road was released first because it was easier to produce and mix down in post. George Martin insisted that if he was going to produce AR for them they’d do it their usual way and no gimmicks or “concepts” like for LIB (which started out as “Get Back”). LIB (the album) took so long in post because none of the producers/engineers who had worked with the Beatles in the past wanted to deal with what they had. Martin wasn’t interested. Glyn Johns, who had worked for Martin with the Beatles took a listen to what there was and said “Not me, mate!”. Finally Spector was brought in to make something sale-able out of what there was. And since the film was supposed to show the recording sessions, they couldn’t really put the film together until they knew what songs were going to be on the album. And they only released the film because they owed United Artists a 3rd film (UA finally won their argument that Yellow Submarine didn’t count). And Macca did LIB Naked as his last chance to get it right. And this time, he had the juice to get it done the way he wanted it (he didn’t when it first came out).