World exclusive: How Peter Jackson's WW1 film transformed Beatles documentary

The director explained how colourising processes used in 'They Shall Not Grow Old' have been repeated for 'The Beatles: Get Back'.

How The Beatles ended has been debated for decades with the widely held belief that the Fab Four were in conflict and split due to rising tensions.

However, a new documentary by Oscar-winning director Sir Peter Jackson is about to offer proof that this was not the case.

Using the same ground-breaking method as was used to restore First World War footage for the documentary They Shall Not Grow Old (TSNGO), released in 2018, the Lord of The Rings director says it's the best footage of The Beatles that he's ever seen.

In an exclusive interview in New Zealand prior to the pandemic, Sir Peter told Forces News reporter Lisa Hartle that The Beatles: Get Back documentary has been created using 57 hours of footage that no one has ever seen after being sat on a shelf for 50 years.

"We restored it through our World War One pipeline," Mr Jackson said, referring to The making of TSNGO.

"Same techniques [as They Shall Not Grow Old], even though it is 1960s film, it was shot on 16 millimetre, it was pretty grainy and it has been sitting around for 50 years.

"So we put it through this pipeline and it’s come out, my god it looks incredible, it looks unbelievable, you'd think it was shot now. It looks like contemporary Beatles film. The best footage of The Beatles I’ve ever seen."

"It's the only film of the Beatles at work in the studio... the camera is like the fly on the wall.

"The Beatles are just doing what they’re doing for a project and there's two cameras filming them for 21 days just as they're writing songs, rehearsing songs, figuring out what they’re going to be doing, it was intended to be a live show that never actually happened.

"The 21 days of footage is incredible as they sort of go through the process of writing new songs for the concert. And it’s a great process to watch, and they’re funny, they’re very, very funny, very human."

Sir Peter Jackson speaks to Forces News about new The Beatles documentary 2019 DATE ADDED 121121 CREDIT BFBS
Sir Peter Jackson speaks to Forces News.

The New Zealand director, who is himself a Beatles fan, said watching the footage changed what he thought was the story of the end of The Beatles.

"Well you certainly learn a lot about this period of time, every book that you read says that they were at each other's throats, it was miserable and that was the beginning of the break up of The Beatles and everything else and that's actually just not true. 

"They're not a band that's intending to break up. There's hardly any arguments - if you can call them arguments - there's hardly anything like that.

"They are totally together, John [Lennon] and Paul [McCartney] were working as a team, George [Harrison] brings in some great songs because he's beginning to write some really great songs now, so they work on his songs.

"Ringo [Starr] is there the whole time just focused. So it gives you a look at these guys and I think it's not going to be what the mythology of this period, you know what you read in the books, it’s going to surprise people."

Paul McCartney during the documentary (Picture: Disney+).

Sir Peter, who has been consulting with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr throughout the documentary process described showing Ringo the footage.

"I did sit with Ringo for three or four hours going through the footage with him and that was interesting because it did inspire a lot of memories and stories from him just seeing it for the first time.

"It was the first time he'd seen it for 50 years. It was great, it was great."

The director described the impact this documentary will have for Beatles fans: "It’s going to make you rethink this period of time if you're a Beatles fan and you think you know all the stories and stuff. And if you're not a Beatles fan I think you’re going to see four guys writing some great songs and you’ll say ‘oh I know that song, oh that’s a famous song isn’t it?' and you’re going to see these four guys at the height of their creative powers, just doing amazing work."

The Beatles: Get Back will be released on Disney+ over three days on 25, 26 and 27 November.

Forces News spoke to Sir Peter whilst filming an exclusive documentary on his astonishing collection of First World War memorabilia, including warplanes built from original blueprints.

During the documentary, the filmmaker shows Forces News around his warehouse of artefacts in Wellington, where he works with his team to restore and create his beloved aircraft.


Watch: Exclusive documentary of Sir Peter Jackson's Military Treasures.