This fall Disney+ unveils the three-part documentary, which mines long-lost footage for a portrait of the band’s final chapter that’s so unexpected it surprised even Paul McCartney.
BY JOE HAGAN JUNE 17, 2021
- Paul appears first, scanning the horizon as a gust of London wind tousles his dark hair. Then Ringo, in a red vinyl coat, ducking below scaffolding to examine his drum kit, cigarette dangling from his mouth. George—in black fur coat and lime green pants—straps on a Telecaster as John arrives to take in the weird scene through gold-framed spectacles: amplifiers and mics, movie cameras and crewmen scurrying around the rooftop of a five-story building on a cold gray day. John rubs his hands to warm them as a young film director puffs a cigar and shares a word with Paul. Billy Preston tests his keyboard and George fingers a familiar R&B riff. Yoko Ono, dressed entirely in black, looks on. An expectant bustle, a clapper board snaps, and then it happens: “1, 2, 3, 4…”
In split screen we see crowds gather on adjoining rooftops, like chimney sweeps from Oliver Twist. On the streets below, suited businessmen and young office workers crane their necks to the sky. “Where’s the noise coming from?” asks an onlooker.
Get back, Jojo!
It’s the Beatles as none would ever see or hear them again—their last live performance as a group, January 30, 1969. It’s also the Beatles as none of us, 52 years on, has ever seen them. The approximately 43-minute sequence from director Peter Jackson’s forthcoming documentary, The Beatles: Get Back—screened exclusively for Vanity Fair—shows the full, uninterrupted concert on the roof of 3 Savile Row, the band’s headquarters, including iconic performances that would appear on their last album, Let It Be. The original footage, taken from at least nine different cameras, has been scrubbed to astonishing clarity, detail, and color, a rapturous window in time. The six-hour doc will run on Disney+ over three nights on November 25, 26, and 27.