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'Let It Be': Rarely-seen 1970 Beatles documentary restored in 4K on Disney+

The Beatles, from left, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney arrive in Liverpool, England on July 10, 1964
The Beatles, from left, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney arrive in Liverpool, England on July 10, 1964 Copyright Credit: AP Photo
Copyright Credit: AP Photo
By Theo Farrant
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After being virtually lost for 54 years, a newly restored 4K version of the 1970 documentary depicting The Beatles creating their final album, has been released.

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Disney+ have recently re-released a rarely-seen 1970 documentary film titled 'Let It Be', chronicling The Beatles' rehearsals and recordings in January 1969, for what would ultimately become their twelfth and final studio album. 

The original documentary has been somewhat of a holy grail for Beatles fans, shrouded in mystery due its unavailability for purchase or streaming. This is partly because the original master tapes mysteriously vanished from Apple Corps shortly after the film's completion. 

Now, the "lost film", shot on 16mm negative, has been meticulously restored and remastered into 4k.

The Beatles performing on the rooftop of Apple Corps headquarters on 30 January 1969.
The Beatles performing on the rooftop of Apple Corps headquarters on 30 January 1969.Credit: Ethan A. Russell/Apple Corps Ltd

Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, 'Let It Be' observes the Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) from a "fly on the wall" perspective, without narration, scene titles, or interviews with the main subjects.

It also captures the iconic Apple Records rooftop concert from January 30, 1969, marking the last time the group performed together in public.

'Let It Be' arrives after the global success of Peter Jackson's eight-hour long 'Get Back' docu-series in 2021, which features much of the same footage captured by Lindsay-Hogg.

An all new music video

To coincide with the re-release of the documentary, a new music video for The Beatles' beloved song 'Let It Be' has been unveiled. The new video incorporates footage from the restored version of the 1970 documentary, along with previously unseen alternate camera angles.

Written and sung by Paul McCartney, 'Let It Be' became the Fab Four’s 19th and penultimate number-one hit in the U.S. in 1970, the year of their breakup. It also lent its name to the band’s final studio album. Over time, the song has become a staple of McCartney’s solo concerts.

According to McCartney in an interview with WIRED last year, the song came to him in a dream during the tense period surrounding the sessions for The Beatles ('The White Album') in 1968. 

“My mother, who died probably 10 years previously, was in the dream. She came to me in the dream. It’s a magic moment because you’re actually there with your mother. So she seemed to know that I was a bit stressed out, and she said, ‘Don’t worry. It’s gonna be fine. Just let it be.’ I thought, ‘Wow,’ and just felt really great that my mother had given me that advice," said McCartney. 

Four Beatles' biopics on the way

This new music video and documentary isn't the only thing Beatles fans have to look forward to. Sir Sam Mendes, the Oscar-winning director behind films like "American Beauty," "1917," and two James Bond movies, "Skyfall" and "Spectre," is planning to produce four full-feature Beatles biopics, each dedicated to one of the band's iconic members.

The four films are expected to roll out theatrically in an innovative fashion, with the movies potentially coexisting or intersecting in cinemas. Precise release plans will be announced at a later date but Sony is targeting 2027 for their release.

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