Disney+'s The Beatles: Get Back introduces a glut of rare archival studio videos, with many querying why the never-before-seen Beatles footage looks so weird. Peter Jackson's new documentary series covers the making of the Beatles' 1970 album Let It Be, a record widely considered marred by the inter-band tensions that eventually led to The Beatles' dissolution in 1971. Jackson himself spent four years restoring Michael Lindsay-Hogg's documentary of the album's making, with the majority of Get Back's eight-hour runtime dedicated to showcasing this updated footage.
Peter Jackson describes The Beatles: Get Back as a "documentary about a documentary," with The Lord of the Rings director looking to challenge the general public's long-held beliefs that the making of Let It Be was marked entirely by tensions between the respective Beatles. Instead, Get Back is a decidedly upbeat affair for the most part, with the four Beatles' hard work in the studio culminating in footage of their celebrated 40-minute rooftop concert above Saville Row in London. Touchingly, surviving Beatles members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr serve as producers on Get Back, with Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison also giving their blessing to the project on behalf of their deceased husbands.
Yet despite the swathes of new Beatles content The Beatles: Get Back promises to unveil, much of the docu-series footage looks decidedly strange. While Peter Jackson's (who also created The Frighteners) painstaking work restoring Lindsay-Hogg's original documentary content has undoubtedly saved much of the footage, the restoration technique of "de-graining" has given the bulk of the video an ethereal quality at odds with the lively back and forth of the young Beatles members. The upscaling of the 1970 footage has also made the restored content look decidedly soft, adding to the otherworldly feel of the documentary series' images.
Peter Jackson, undoubtedly, is the perfect person to tackle restoring Michael Lindsay-Hogg's original footage after his work on the World War One documentary They Shall Not Grow Old. To revive this black and white, grainy archival footage, The Lord of the Rings' Jackson employed several painstaking video restoration techniques. These consisted of sharpening old footage, removing grain, changing the picture speed, removing splices, and adjusting the frame rate. In the case of older footage, the frame rate often breaks down (meaning images jump forward), with Jackson and his team having to recreate these lost frames one at a time to ensure a complete, unbroken sequence of movement throughout They Shall Not Grow Old.
It is this exact technique that Jackson and his team bring to bear in The Beatles: Get Back, with Lindsay-Hogg's footage de-grained, upscaled, and softened to bring the picture up to modern streaming framerate standards. While the results are undeniable and form the backbone of The Beatles: Get Back's footage-filled episodes, the upscaling of the small, original 1970s video results in many scenes where The Beatles have an otherworldly glow behind them. The softening of their features further supports this feeling, with the scenes featuring the late John Lennon taking on an ethereal, spiritual quality as he records the album Let it Be and lends further weight to the continued mystique that follows The Beatles legend in The Beatles: Get Back to this day.