On This Day: The Beatles’ Film ‘Let It Be’ Premiered in 1970

by Madison Miller

The Beatles were there to “whisper words of wisdom” to fans across the world in 1970.

The documentary film titled “Let It Be,” sharing a name with the group’s popular 12th and final studio album, came out on May 13, 1970.

It stars the Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Michael Lindsay-Hogg was the director. George Martin, Billy Preston, Yoko Ono, and Linda Eastman’s daughter, Heather, all make appearances with the group.

‘Let It Be’ Hits Theaters

It is a behind-the-scenes look at the recording process of the “Let It Be” album, which was released in tandem with the film. The movie, which was originally intended to be a TV documentary, ended up earning an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score.

However, the Beatles actually ended up breaking up about a month before the film and album were released to the public. This is one of the last looks into the group at Twickenham and their recording studios in Savile Row.

During the film is an impromptu rooftop concert on Apple Building. This was actually the very last public performance from the band before going their separate ways. Together they sing “Get Back,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “One After 909,” and “Dig a Pony” on the roof. Passerby gawk as one of the most popular bands disrupts traffic and causes people to freeze in time. “I remember it was cold and windy and damp, but all the people looking out from offices were really enjoying it,” Ringo Starr said, according to The Beatles Anthology.

The film focuses on the process of constructing the “Let It Be” album. However, there are some moments and glimpses that suggest the band is close to falling apart.

For example, a heated moment takes place between McCartney and Harrison in the film. McCartney criticizes Harrison’s guitar playing on the track, “Two of Us,” causing a very tense conversation. McCartney says, “I always hear myself annoying you.” Harrison responded with, “I’ll play whatever you want me to play, or I won’t play at all if you don’t want me to play. Whatever it is that will please you, I’ll do it.”

The Beatles After the Film

It was a pretty grim foreshadow. In an Entertainment Weekly interview with Lindsay-Hogg in 2003, he reveals that it was very clear certain members of the group were getting on each other’s nerves.

“I didn’t want them to feel the cameras were intrusive … put one camera up in the gantry shooting down, so they didn’t see it. I moved the other camera back to the end of the studio. So they didn’t really know the cameras were there, which gave them the opportunity to get it off their chest,” Lindsay-Hogg said.

The film takes on an outsider perspective and just observes the group. It lacks the typical interviews and narration common in documentary-style films. From singing “For You Blue” to strumming a lap steel guitar to structuring “Octopus’s Garden,” the film delves into the creative process of one of the most influential bands in history. As far as controversy goes, the movie received hate for omitting the part in which Harrison verbally quits the band.

The production process was a mess since tension was high and very intimate, tense moments were caught on film. The Beatles would later ask for certain parts to be cut out of the final project.

Now, Beatles fans are getting another documentary film on one of the most influential groups of the last century. The film is “The Beatles: Get Back” and Peter Jackson is the director. It will explore the process of that same 1970 album. The film draws on material from the original Michael Lindsay-Hogg project. It will release in August 2021.