The colour movie was 81 minutes in length, was given a ‘U’ certificate and won an Oscar in the 1970 Academy Awards for ‘Best Original Song Score: Music and Lyrics by the Beatles”.
Lindsay-Hogg had worked with the Beatles on several occasions, but his
direction of the film was criticised by Michael Goodwin in Rolling Stone
magazine who wrote:
“One of the delights of watching a movie made by a good director is that you can sit back and relax, knowing the film-maker has got everything under control. Here, you are constantly busy doing work that Lindsay-Hogg should have done, but didn’t: cutting the bad stuff, rearranging the good stuff, placing the camera properly – really basic directorial responsibilities. You have to use so much energy doing his job for him that by the end of the film you’ve put in your hard day’s night and ought to get paid.
“Lindsay-Hogg shoots in such a way that you get pushed farther and farther away from the simple reality of the music going down. For most of the film, the cameras are in tight close-ups or (at best) medium close-ups of Paul’s nose or John’s tonsils – a technique which painfully misses the point that music is a collective activity in which musicians work together…after an hour of Lindsay-Hogg’s self-conscious attempts at being ‘cinematic’, I found myself wishing he would pull the camera far enough to get everybody in the shot at once, and go out for a sandwich. He could take lessons from Warhol on the subject of documentaries.”
in a Rolling Stone interview gave an insight into the problems he had
making the movie:
“It’s lucky there is a movie. There was a big push all the time to get them going. Even though half of them always were behind it, the trouble was it was never the same half. It was a terribly painful, frustrating experience. It’s not that I don’t like them. I do. It’s just that when we were trying to make the film, every day there was a different one to hate".
“It was decided to do a television special to back up the new album. The one pushing it most was Paul. George was reluctant, John was very keen, and Ringo would go along, although they changed back and forth a lot afterwards. The special was to be shown at the end of the month, the album to be released the start of the next. And then someone decided they wanted a half-hour documentary that showed how the album was made. So we started all this – making a film about making an album, it was all a bit bizarre, even then".
“The first thing we shot is the final thing you see in the cinemas, moving the old drum kit with the old Beatles logo, and replacing it with an empty piano. For those who like symbols, there’s that, although I’m not too heavily into that. But it does represent the end of something and the start of something else, which is what I intended to capture".
are 22 numbers featured in the film, most of them performed during the
studio recording. The boys are seen playing, talking, eating, relaxing;
the various people who appear in the film include Billy Preston, Derek
Taylor, Yoko Ono, Mal Evans, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Heather McCartney
and George Martin.
The Twickenham Studio setting is featured for approximately an hour’s screen time and the film’s most exciting moment is when the Beatles emerge onto the Apple roof, overlooking Burlington Gardens.
There are edited sequences of the 40 minutes they spent on the windswept roof, including the entry of the police and comments from people in the crowds that gathered in the streets below. One man, obviously incapable of appreciating that the fun of life needn’t be restricted to outside business hours, comments: “This kind of music is very good in its place, but it’s a bit of an imposition when it disrupts all the business in the area".
The Beatles conversations inside the studio cover various topics, but at several points tempers appear frayed. George in particular, seems annoyed at various points, specifically when Paul explains how he wants a guitar line played.
all its various shortcomings, there was no denying the excellence of
the movie’s soundtrack. Fans were treated to a host of numbers which
Don’t Let Me Down; For You Blue; Maxwell’s Silver Hammer; Besame Mucho; Two of Us; Octopus’ Garden; I’ve Got A Feeling; You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me; Oh Darling; The Long And Winding Road; One After 909; Shake Rattle And Roll; Jazz Piano Song; Kansas City; Across The Universe; Lawdy Miss Clawdy; Dig A Pony; Dig It; Suzy Parker; Let It Be; I Me Mine and Get Back.
‘Let It Be’ was premiered at the London Pavilion on 20th May 1970. A number of celebrities attended the occasion, including Jane Asher and Cynthia Lennon, although none of the Beatles turned up for the film’s launch, which perhaps gave some indication of their opinion of it. George, at least, had a good excuse: he was recording his ‘All Things Must Pass’ album that evening with Phil Spector. John was to comment:
“It was hell making the film. When it came out a lot of people complained about Yoko looking miserable in it. But even the biggest Beatle fan couldn’t have sat through those six weeks of misery. It was the most miserable session on earth”.