I've never seen such twaddle written about a film as I have in reviews of "Let It Be." Please, throw out everything you have heard about it and just see it. If you like good music, you will be glad you did.
The film is a chronicle of The Beatles' recording session for their
"Let It Be" album. There is no phony storyline, it is cinema verite of
a fairly straightforward recording session (by the premier band ever,
with all the trappings). And yes, the band did break up down the road,
eventually, and for that matter John got shot and George died of
cancer. But, no, this session is not "sad" and does not show "the
breakup." That is all 20-20 hindsight related to the fact that the
group finally did break up around the time the film was released. In
fact, the boys, obviously after a lengthy layoff, gradually get back
into things over the course of the film and by the end of the creative
process are once more musical dynamite.
Perhaps you have been on a sports team, or in a drama production, or
some other group endeavor in school. You reach a fine pitch of
performance at the end of the year, then break for summer. You come
back the next year and, rusty and out of practice, just don't have the
same teamwork as you did at the end of the previous year. There are
petty squabbles and lots of sour notes amid traces of the brilliance
that once was. But you work and work and work through the year, and
finally get it all back. That is EXACTLY what this film is about. Paul
is like the coach who is up to speed while the players are all out of
shape, but he pushes and prods to get them up to speed. In the end,
they are all back in rhythm together again.
There are some fascinating vignettes that I have to point out. This
film established Yoko in the public mind as a kind of Satanic figure.
She sits in the corner, never smiling, almost frowning whenever John
looks like he's having fun. As a public relations effort, it was a
disaster for her. Since Paul was behind the film, that kind of makes
you think a bit....
Another fascinating aspect is the reaction of the locals to the rooftop
concert. You had staid banker types, pipes clenched in teeth, climbing
on rooftops to get a good look and listen. Others, in the street,
mumbled about how the boys were "good people." The crowd is almost
reverent in its expressions. You don't get THAT kind of reaction too
often to a performance. The Beatles reached right across generational
lines, to the old as much as to the young. No, that is not too common
The high point of this film begins not at the famous rooftop concert,
but right before it. Back-to-back, out of nowhere after all the
fumbling rehearsals, suddenly we get two perfect, crystal-clear music
videos of Paul singing "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road"
(better than the released versions imho). George and John are grinning
as they add the background vocals, Ringo taking the occasional drag on
a cigarette. Then, having satisfied themselves that they have
recaptured the magic, the boys emerge from their bunker onto the Apple
Corps rooftop to shout to the world, "We're back and better than ever!"
There also is an element of the renegade in this coming out party, with
John at last showing the liveliness for which he was famous as the
group rather audaciously decides to wake the old town up. What garage
band hasn't wanted to just climb on the roof and let it rip? Every
single one of them was having a blast, maybe Paul in particular because
finally the others had caught up to him and were making the
contributions to the effort for which he had been waiting.
The final song, "Get Back," is simply brilliant. Sung by Paul while the
cops were waiting patiently to, what, arrest them? He spits out lines
like "she's gonna have you ARRESTED" like a madman while everybody
looks over their shoulders at the men in black helmets. Sure, it was
all staged, but so what? If that isn't one of the coolest scenes in
film, I don't know what is. Check out the ending of "Monty Python and
the Holy Grail" (those guys were HUGE Beatles fans) to see a send-up of
You still want to insist that the film "shows the breakup of the
Beatles"? Uh, no, I don't think so. "Abbey Road," which came after this
and was the culmination of the Beatles legend, put the lie to that
forever. If you really pay attention, this film instead shows The
Beatles at their essence, brilliance with the genius touch of the
renegade. Just musicians, doing their thing better than anyone else.