Monday, 2 March 2009

Let It Be - The Big picture


Produced by British underground DVD compilers "British Lions" and sold by American bootleg DVD brand "FAB Productions" is a new version of the Let It Be movie, which boasts to have a near complete, uncropped version of the film.
The movie makers seem to be under the impression that the official laser disc and video cassette versions (USA) were somehow cropped in comparison to the theatrical release of this film. Could well be, I've never seen this film in a movie theatre. However, my understanding is that the theatrical release was a 35mm film blown up (and zoomed in) from the original 16mm footage. The US laser disc and video cassette editions are simply transfers from that one. Whereas the original 16mm cut of the movie was shown on TV in Germany in the early nineties (and later became an official looking bootleg VHS cassette, complete with german subtitles).
Be that as it may, British Lions and FAB Productions have now made an effort to bring us a version of the film with as little cropping as possible. 95% of the movie is presented with a bigger picture frame than the one we are familiar with from the earlier DVD's made from the laser disc. There are two songs from the rooftop sequence where no uncropped footage has been found, and they are presented here as we remember them. The uncropped footage has been collected from various sources, we are told. In general, the picture is a little bit brighter than the laser disc edition. Sometimes it's also a little fuzzier, has more jagged edges and there are occasional video cassette tape artifacts. All in all though, it's an enjoyable edition - but one that I feel can still be improved on. There's a feature which compares the laser disc edition to the uncropped edition, which shows you just how much of a bigger picture this version gives us.

There are two other underground releases going around in trade circles these days, both made by a mysterious "Sir Stephane". We've obtained the second of these, which is a longer "Let It Be" movie than before. The usual length of "Let It Be" is 81 minutes, while this edit clocks in at 105 minutes! How is this possible? This has been achieved by incorporating footage from other sources. Apple Corps have been steadily releasing "Let It Be" outtake footage over the years, starting with the "Don't Let Me Down" promo clip, through the Yoko Ono documentary "Now and Then" from 1985, the "Anthology" TV-series, laser disc and DVD editions, the EPK for "Let It Be...Naked" and if you didn't blink you'd also see some previously unseen "Let It Be" footage in their "All Together Now" DVD from last year. "Sir Stephane" has taken this footage and intersected it into "Let It Be" in chronological order. There's also some leaked footage which has been around in collector circles for a while. The "Sir Stephane" release brings us:

  • a longer I've Got A Feeling

  • a longer I Me Mine sequence

  • more studio versions of Get Back

  • off the cuff adlibs of Help!/Please Please Me

  • more Octopus Garden

  • a longer rooftop concert sequence


The rooftop concert brings us the full performance (except for when the tape ran out) in audio, including the brief "God Save The Queen" riff, and the movie has been heavily edited here to accompany the audio. Unfortunately, several scenes are shown twice or more, in lack of having more video footage. The picture quality is varying from "Anthology" quality to black and white (only a few sequences), but it's highly watchable, even for a broader audience, for whom the "Get Back Chronicles" 3DVD set will be an overkill.
Still, we're hoping Apple Corps will come to their senses some time in the future and bring us the "Let It Be" movie we're all dreaming about.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

In ref to the German VHS of Let It Be - I think it's legit, as I own a retail copy:

http://www.beatlescollecting.com/the-beatles/forums/videos/20090128221716583027.html?ndxpg=1

It does have a nice picture that appears to have a better scope.

Wogew said...

People from Germany tells me it's a pirate video, dressed in Warner Home Video drag to make it look legit.