The Guide #10: the enduring appeal of the Beatles

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In this week’s newsletter, why Peter Jackson’s eight-hour documentary proves the band still have a vice-like grip on our culture

If you have already streamed any of The Beatles: Get Back, Peter Jackson’s mammoth documentary on the Fab Four’s Let It Be sessions, you will have probably marvelled at how alive it all looks: helped by Jackson and his team’s restorative whizzery, John, Paul, George and Ringo seem right there, noodling, improvising, gently ribbing each other (George seems to bear the brunt of it). Discount the odd contemporaneous reference to Enoch Powell or Zsa Zsa Gabor, not to mention some extremely late-60s fashions, and it often feels like you’re watching it live.

Of course, the fact that Jackson had to use those restorative techniques – the same he used on his first world war doc They Shall Not Grow Old – to bring the Beatles rushing to the present is a pretty striking illustration of how long ago those sessions were. Today, nearly as much time has passed since the release of Let It Be, as had passed between the end of the first world war and the album’s arrival. Microprocessors, space stations, video recorders (let alone DVDs, USB sticks or the concept of streaming an entire eight-hour miniseries on the Beatles), Mark Wahlberg: none of these things were around when the Beatles were.

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