Originally filmed in December 1968, "The Rock and Roll Circus" was originally intended to be released as a television special. The special was filmed over two nights and featured not only ... See full summary »
A documentary showing both how The Beatles made music together, and how they split up. Hundreds of hours of raw footage was condensed into the final product. The rooftop performance ending the film remains a rock-n-roll archetype. Written by
Ed Chen <email@example.com>
The film - shot in 16mm - was originally intended to end up as a television program. When it was decided to use the material to produce a theatrical release, the end result (via blowup from 16mm to 35mm) matted the top and bottom of the frame, resulting in awkward picture compositions and obscuring picture information. Many shots were even repositioned (up or down) so that heads etc. would not be totally obscured. The later home video release in the early 1980's was a pan-and-scan of this matted version that cut of the sides resulting in the viewer only seeing the center of the filmed frame! See more »
At one point rehearsing "I've Got A Feeling", John is heard singing (and bantering) with Paul, but his mouth isn't moving on camera. See more »
I'm not trying to get you. But I really am trying to just say, "Look, lads- the band, you know. Shall we... try it like this, you know?"
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As a life-long Beatles fan don't expect objectivity here - I first saw this in the early 70's and found it riveting and got the same feeling tonight. This was an early ordinary rockumentary about 4 ordinary yet very talented blokes in their late 20's at the peak of their creative powers, in the process of readjustment to being mere hairy bickering mortals again after experiencing a few years of quasi-godhood. "Mr. Epstein" was long dead although Paul was trying to fill his shoes, and their Apple Empire was shrinking. The Beatles almost on their own created intelligent pop/rock music, which imho has not moved on since 1969 where they left it. There have been many excellent innovative and intelligent rock bands that have come and gone since, many borrowing and adapting from the Beatles back catalogue however I don't count the many cash-in rip-off bands such as Oasis. Has anyone since not ripped them off at some point? I've lost count of the number of times over the decades I've heard a "new" piece of music and said to myself "I've heard that before somewhere ah yes, such and such by the Beatles". Apart from the quantum leaps in sound technology since then nothing of any lasting musical value has been added there has been no progression. Led Zeppelin filled stadia but did they fill billions of hearts? Queen was popular but did they rule the world? Pop and rock music may have always been ephemeral, but along with Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Lata Mangeshkar, Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix the Beatles weren't. Never mind about their timeless music, they even managed to look timeless while everyone else around them in here looked dated by the early '70's. God works in mysterious ways.
John, Paul, George and Ringo got together first in Twickenham Studios then in the Apple basement in January 1969 to rehearse some new songs with the assistance of almost-5th Beatle Billy Preston (and occasionally actual-5th Beatle George Martin) and with the hope of playing live again sometime soon. Yoko (definitely not 5th Beatle) would have probably been on stage with them. As it turned out on they only made it to the Apple roof on 30th January, disturbing the peace of the police on the streets of London below. The Rolling Stone review of the film from 9th July 1970 that I remember so well was typically over-reverential but had some telling points the first being how deliberately grainy the photography was which still can take some getting used to and that there was over 800 hours of footage from 4 cameras to edit down to the brief 80 minutes we got. How on Earth can it ever be properly remastered and will more ever be officially available in our lifetimes? Maybe we should also bear in mind that the film was to be called Get Back as a return to simplicity for the band, and that McCartney originally penned racist lyrics for this sublime song which thankfully weren't incorporated into any of the final versions. There's a lot of classic pop music in here from their own then new stuff to rock'n'roll standards from the '50's, which the Beatles were in an ideal and unchallengeable position to translate for listeners both of the Old World of pop and the New World of rock that they left behind them.
Highlights: A splendid cod version of Bessame Mucho from McCartney; a loving version of You Really Got A Hold On Me from Lennon; the videos for Two Of Us, Let It Be, Long And Winding Road; and Get Back, Don't Let Me Down up on the freezing roof; so many others. Overall: to a fan, a beautiful and sad account of a unique group of individuals struggling and failing against disintegration; this should also be essential viewing to fans of intelligent pop/rock music who might have sometimes wondered where U2, Bon Jovi, Kings Of Leon et al came from so far though, this was the artistic pinnacle.
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