Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores how (and why) The Beatles: Get Back turns you into a spy.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year (can I join you?), you’ve no doubt heard tell of the coolest documentary of 2021: an eight-hour-long hangout session with The Beatles directed by Peter Jackson.
Plot summaries fall to bits when your minute-by-minute runtime careens into the triple digits, but broadly speaking, The Beatles: Get Back follows the four lads from Liverpool as they work out creative kinks during a 22-day studio session culminating in their final performance at London’s Savile Row.
As our own Brad Gullickson puts it, it can be difficult to suss out whether the documentary possesses a magical quality or an inherent creepiness. This push-pull, between voyeurism and quality time, is hard to come to terms with. We are, very much, a fly in the wall throughout the three-part series’ girthy runtime, more often witness to tedious fiddling than we are to creative breakthroughs.
But if you’ve been struggling with The Beatles: Get Back‘s daunting length, or with this uncomfortable sense that you’re watching something you shouldn’t, the video essay below may be able to help.
Indeed, surveying Jackson’s filmography, this is the thing the Kiwi director has been trying to make since 1996’s The Frighteners, the first project in which he experimented with lengthy, intimate, behind-the-scenes special features. Jackson has a keen interest in inviting us behind the curtain to eavesdrop on the creative process, to demystify and highlight the day-to-day effort that goes into making a piece of art, be it a film or an album.
The creative process often doesn’t look like anything special; it looks like Viggo Mortensen sneaking away from the set of The Lord of the Rings to go fishing. It looks like Ringo Starr doing exactly what every musician does: breaking his music stand when trying to unfold it.
The daunting runtime of The Beatles: Get Back isn’t a bug, but a feature, a way for us to gain some sense of what putting all the pieces together looks like.
Watch “How (and Why) The Beatles: Get Back Turns You Into a Spy”:
Who made this?
This video on how The Beatles: Get Back turns you into a spy is by Andrew Saladino, who runs the Texas-based Royal Ocean Film Society. You can browse their back catalog of videos on their Vimeo account here. If Vimeo isn’t your speed, you can give them a follow on YouTube here.
More videos like this
- For more of the Royal Ocean Film Society’s work, check out their essay on the cult-like appeal of the Criterion Collection.
- And another: an essay on three films that tell the story of Joe Dante‘s struggle with working for the big studios.
- Again, from the Royal Ocean Film Society: a video essay about the films in which all-American everyman Jimmy Stewart played the villain.
- And finally, here’s a video from Variety in which director Peter Jackson reveals how he managed to get the two surviving Beatles to let him make the film.