Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Let It Be Timeline

I just updated my 2008 post about the "Let It Be" film with a timeline, and to keep you noted, I'm posting it here as well.


"Let It Be" US movie poster, 1970.

1969: 16mm footage of the Beatles filmed in January for proposed TV Special and album, "Get Back". Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg.
1969: The Beatles all attend a screening of a rough cut of the movie on July 20. Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg recalled that it was about an hour longer than the released version.

Paul and Linda smooching in the back row. George with his dad and Pattie. Photo: Yoko Ono.
1969: Film and album shelved for now, new album "Abbey Road" recorded and released.
1969-70: Footage reworked for movie screening, to fulfill 3 film contract with United Artists.
1970: Theatrical release. Film has been blown up to 35mm, sound is in mono, retitled "Let It Be".
1975: BBC 1 shows the film on Boxing Day. 16mm version, mono.
1979: Four years later, BBC 1 again shows the film on Boxing Day. 16mm version, mono.
1980: John Lennon is killed.
1981: Home Video release (USA) of 35mm film pan-and-scan: VHS, Betamax, Laserdisc and Videodisc on 20th Century Fox/Magnetic Video Corporation. Mono.

Laser disc
Beta videocassette (USA)

1982: TV screening (UK) of 16mm cropped version on BBC TV. Mono.
1983: TV screening (West Germany - Bayerische Rundfunk). 16mm version, mono. The film was also shown on TV in several other countries, Finland and Australia among them, but we have no full overview of this. And of course, the film was also shown on TV in the seventies.

Comparison: The German TV version has the biggest picture. Note yellow hue on US version. More natural colours on BBC version. Still, when clips were shown on the Anthology TV-series, the picture was even bigger.
1984: Home Video Release (West Germany) of transfer from 16mm full screen version: VHS, Betamax on Warner Home Video. German subtitles. Mono.
1984: Home Video Release (Holland) on Warner Home Video. Transfer from 16mm, mono. Dutch subtitles.

Dutch video cassette.

1992: Original 16mm film restored by Ron Furmanek, remastered sound, stereo when multitracks exist.
1995: Restored footage from film and outtakes shown on The Beatles Anthology TV series.
1997: VCI (UK) announces plans to release the film on VHS. It doesn't happen.
2001: George Harrison succumbs to cancer.
2002: Paul McCartney says plans for DVD release alongside "Let It Be...Naked".
2003: Original 16mm film plus outtakes restored by Bob Smeaton.
2003: "Let It Be...Naked" album released. Outtakes from "Let It Be" film used in promotion of album. No sign of the film on DVD.
2003: Movie director Lindsay-Hogg says 2 DVDs with the film and outtakes ready for 2004.
2004: A review of a 3 disc version appears online.
2005: "The Toronto Sun" features interview with Bob Smeaton who says a DVD will come out that year.
2006: In a US radio show, Bob Smeaton gives three possible release dates in 2006 for the DVD.
2007: Apple Corps Ltd register the domain name
2007: Neil Aspinall says the film is still too controversial for release.
2008: Yoko Ono says the DVD will not be released yet.
2008: "The Daily Express" (UK) says DVD was cancelled by Paul and Ringo.
2009: Unidentified "insider" claims Yoko Ono is the one blocking the release.
2009: Theatrical screening at a film club in Philadelphia, PA. Good print, poor mono sound.
2010: BBC radio show says DVD is still considered for release at a future date.
2011: Original film and outtakes re-transferred again in higher resolution for future release.
2012: Film due out for 50th anniversary of "Love Me Do", but plans are again scrapped.
2012: Richard Porter learns from insider that the film may be released in 2014 or 2015.
2012: Ringo says: "One day that will come out, but we're not thinking about it right now".
2013: The "Let It Be...Naked" album released on iTunes and two videos made available for download: "Get Back" and "Don't Let Me Down" - both compiled in 2003 of outtakes from the original "Let It Be" movie.
2013: "Help!", "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Yellow Submarine" restored and released on Blu-ray.
2014: "A Hard Day's Night" released on Blu-ray.
2015: Ringo confirms that it will eventually be released, just not this year.
2015: The last 34 minutes of Furmanek's unpublished 1992 restoration uploaded on YouTube
2015: Apple releases a collection of The Beatles' promotional films on Blu-ray and DVD. The material from "Let It Be" looks unrestored. This triggers speculation that Apple saves the restored version for a later stand-alone release.
2016: Bootleg company HMC releases the 1992 restoration of the film on a DVD+CD package in NTSC and an aspect ratio of 4:3, with the lower part of the picture cropped.
2016: Paul tells Rolling Stone that he keeps promoting a release of the film internally.

Bootleggers have, of course, released numerous versions of Let It Be video cassettes, DVDs and even Blu-rays. The first ones were taken from either the US laser disc or one of the US video cassette formats. Later ones are taken from video cassettes recordings of the BBC televised version or from the German video cassette, since these provide better colours and a bigger picture than either of the USA releases.

On the best of these underground releases, the bootleggers have substituted the original mono soundtrack by soundtracks compiled from the Nagra (mono) tapes as well as stereo audio from various compilations of the Get Back album, the Let It Be album, the Let It Be...Naked album and single, and audio extractions from various officially televised or released video clips.

Some bootleg versions of the film include bonus material, usually in the form of outtakes from the film (various clips were released to TV companies around the world as promotion of the Let It Be...Naked album in 2003).

Through the years, outtake footage from the film has circulated among fans. Some of the footage has been silent, some with sound, some in black and white. Since the Nagra audio tapes with the sound captured simultaneously with the filming are also circulating, the silent film footage has been synched with its correct audio. Usually, the picture quality of the circulating outtake material is pretty bad.


Popper said...

I seem to remember UK television showed all the Beatles films one Christmas - maybe 1978? That would mean another screening of Let It Be.

Dag Braathen said...

Boxing day 1975 & 1979:

Dogma said...

So, it is true then? that there is no widescreen version of the film? just the same as MMT?

Roger Stormo said...

Let It Be was shot on 16mm film stock, and when it was released for theatrical usage, the film was transferred to standard 35mm non-widescreen (aspect ratio 1.66:1). The picture area of standard 16 mm has an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, and you're right: MMT is the same. It's not 4:3, which was the standard TV screen until widescreen TV became common. This means that it's not quite widescreen, which is 16:9 (standard widescreen TV format, or about 1.78:1 translated to film aspect ratio), but it is certainly wider than the old 4:3 TV standard. For a DVD or Blu-ray release of "Let It Be", the 16mm could easily be made into 16:9 for widescreen TV - but that would involve some cropping of the picture - or pan & scan. A true rendition of the whole picture frame for TV can be done, and will leave black bars over and under the picture area. Note that while the televised versions on BBC showed a bigger picture than the original 35mm film version, the German version showed even more of the picture image and the bits used in Anthology had an even bigger picture frame than the German TV version. So if you look at what the Anthology DVD footage from the film looks like on your widescreen TV, that's probably what we'll get when and if it gets released.

Dogma said...

Thanks Roger! as always, great info!!