Ken Dashow

Ken Dashow

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'Let It Be' Director Shrugs Off Ringo's Critique That The Film Had 'No Joy'

Photo: Getty Images North America

As Beatles fans eagerly await the release of Peter Jackson's The Beatles: Get Back documentary cut from previously unseen footage from the Let It Be album sessions, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg's original Let It Be documentary has endured an avalanche of new criticism — especially from the two surviving Beatles.

Lindsey-Hogg's 1970 film, Let It Be, had long been held up as the preeminent document of The Beatles' breakup, depicting a tired, quarrelsome version of the Fab Four about a year before they officially parted ways.

But while the band members appeared ready to go their own ways by the end of the Let It Be film, Beatles fans have long wondered what, then, prompted Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to record one more album, Abbey Road, after the apparently-strained Let It Be sessions.

Jackson cut his film from 56 hours of previously unreleased Let It Be footage. He described the editing process as "joyous" and the resulting film as "the real story" of what happened over those many weeks in 1969.

In a recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Ringo lamented Lindsey-Hogg's film as joyless and "very narrow, built around a moment" of contention among the band members.

"There was no joy in it," Ringo told Colbert. "...There was a little bit of tension — no one can take that away — but to use that moment and not use these 56 hours of unused film. ...It's how it was. ...Even though we had arguments, like any family, we loved each other, you know, and it shows in the [new] film."

Speaking with Rolling Stone in a new interview, Lindsey-Hogg stood by his original edit.

"Personally, I don't care [what Ringo thinks]," the director said. "That's his opinion. And we all have them. I mean, the polite version is everybody's got elbows, and everybody's got opinions. I like Ringo. And I don't think he's seen the movie for 50 years. ...And I think, if you haven't seen the movie in a long time, and you may not have the best memory in the world, all that kind of gets mixed up in your brain about what it was like. Because when I saw it last, I'm thinking, 'What is he talking about?'"

Lindsey-Hogg argued that his film was appropriately balanced, with both happy and tense moments.

"In fact, there's great joy and connection and collaboration, and good times and jokes and affection in Let It Be," he countered. "It ends with the concert on the roof, which is the first time they played together in public for three years, when they are magical. And they're having such a good time. They realized, 'Wow, we've been missing this.' And through much of the picture, they're happy and they're trying to work things out. You don't always have a smile on your face when you're trying to work something out."

In one interview last year with Howard Stern, McCartney suggested that Lindsey-Hogg's original film had dramatically affected his own recollections of recording Let It Be.

"[Jackson's film is] so lovely for me because I had kind of bought into the idea that, oh, me and John were rivals and didn't like each other and stuff. But you see the film and it's like thank god it's not true," McCartney said. "The guys, we're obviously having fun together. You can see we respect each other and we're making music together. It's a joy to see it unfold."

The Beatles: Get Back is due out November 25.

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