Friday, May 23, 2008

Somebody call Martin Scorsese....

I can understand the pleasure Martin Scorsese must be taking in working on his recent films, No Direction Home (2005) and this year's Shine a Light. I've read that his next project along these lines is a still untitled George Harrison documentary scheduled for a 2010 release. This will sort of extend his work on Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones to include The Beatles, but I think he may be missing the best opportunity of all.

As much as I look forward to the film on Harrison, if I had Marty's cell number I would make another recommendation.

Make a new film from the hundreds of hours of footage that were originally turned into Let It Be.

Here's why....

In 1969-1970 the end of The Beatles seemed to those of us at the time like a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. That the source of so much joy and beauty was reaching an end seemed impossibly sad. But remember that most of us, and all four of them, had not yet made it out of our twenties. We were simply witnessing one example of the BIG lesson we would learn again and again. Nothing lasts.

But the film - which started as a project to simplify, "get back" to basics, with an initial (and then quickly abandoned) intent to perform live again - that was assembled from hundreds of hours of footage shot during 1969, was cut together to represent that shared sense of tragedy.

While there is undeniable tension present in the proceedings, that's not the whole story. The album that resulted from those sessions has more John & Paul duet vocals than any of the 4 or 5 albums that precede it. While McCartney claims he wrote "The Two Of Us" for his new girlfriend Linda, it's silly to think the lines "You and I have memories / farther than the road that stretches out ahead" were written about anyone but Lennon.

Imagine the film that might be created from the room full of footage shot during that year.

With the technologies that enabled The Beatles 1965 film Help! to be beautifully restored for its recent DVD release, a new film (I think I'd call it The Beatles - 1969) with restored color and sound that culminated with a complete "The Rooftop Concert" - all assembled from scratch from the original camera masters - could be the real jewel in the Dylan/Stones/Beatles crown.

Everything suggests that the surviving Beatles and families have almost no interest in re-releasing the original 1970 film. In a February 2007 interview, the late Apple head, Neil Aspinall, said, "The film was so controversial when it first came out. When we got halfway through restoring it, we looked at the outtakes and realized: this stuff is still controversial. It raised a lot of old issues."

A new film could be assembled, not as a definitive document of the time, but as an alternative Let It Be. A "counter-tragedy."

A celebration of the band and the music and the times.

Now somebody go call Marty.


TCB Walsh said...

That's a great idea - there is no doubt some amazing footage that will never see the light of day. I've always thought the album was underrated too - people talk about it like it's a failure but it has Two of Us, Across the Universe, I've got a Feeling, Get Back, For You Blue, Long and Winding Road and the incredible title song. Some failure. - Steve (Rock Turtleneck)

Stan Denski said...

Yes, it may well be the weakest Beatles LP, but that still makes it a couple times better than most band's best record.

Laura said...

This LP has always struck me as the Beatles most human LP. They had already been "the toppermost of the poppermost" as Lennon or McCartney once proclaimed their goal to be and had produced (my favorites) Rubber Soul and Revolver, and passed through the Sgt Pepper, the White Album, and so on. It has always seemed that this LP was where they laid down the title of BEATLES and became people again.