Peter Jackson Is Directing a New, Happier Doc About the Beatles’ Let It Be

Let it be … happy? Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

To celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ final album Let It Be, Peter Jackson has signed on to somewhat rewrite its history. Jackson, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison have announced that Jackson will direct a new documentary about the making of the 1970 album using 55 hours of unseen footage shot in the studio while the band recorded it. But unlike Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 version, which famously chronicled the band’s bickering in the year-and-a-half before they broke up, Jackson plans to show a more glowing side of the story. “I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” Jackson said in a statement. “Sure, there’s moments of drama, but none of the discord this project has long been associated with.”

Per Variety, plans to restore the original film for a 2000 release on DVD were scuttled when McCartney and Starr disagreed with the tone of the film and its portrayal of those studio sessions as contentious. Jackson’s, then, will be happier; meanwhile, Lindsay-Hogg’s version will live on with a digital rerelease shortly after Jackson’s film comes out, according to Apple Corps. Just as Jackson did for his latest film, the WW1 doc They Shall Not Grow Old, he also plans to use a similar technique to restore all the archival footage shot on 16 mm. Jackson’s film is expected for release in 2020.

The Beatles and Jackson have a bit of indirect history together: As Jackson himself revealed in 2002, the Beatles once wanted to make their own Lord of the Rings in 1960, with John Lennon as Gollum, McCartney as Frodo, George Harrison as Gandalf, and Ringo as Samwise. Naturally, J.R.R. Tolkien “killed” the idea, but who is he to say Jackson can’t now give us the Frodo-Sam old-man spinoff we deserve?

Peter Jackson Directing Doc About the Beatles’ Let It Be