Sunday, 7 February 2016
Review of the new HMC bootleg DVD of Let It Be
A copy of the latest release from His Master's Choice, "TMOQ Vol #23 The Beatles: Let It Be - The Movie" has reached us, and here's our verdict.
The stereo clips that appeared last year on Revolver TV appear to be slightly stretched vertically and squeezed horizontally. The NTSC version released by HMC is a different transfer of an identical copy, but has not been distorted like the Revolver version was. The version on this DVD (as was also the case with the Revolver TV online clips) is in the 4:3 aspect ratio, which makes it plausible that this copy stems from a video tape which was readied for release by VCI in the UK back in 1997 - but withdrawn. On an old 4:3 TV, the image will fill the whole screen, whereas on a modern 16:9 TV there will be black bars on the sides, but not on the top/bottom. The picture quality of the HMC version seems better than all previous versions, similar to the watermarked Revolver TV clips.
The overall impression of this presentation is that it's quite good looking and sounding. It doesn't look like any real picture restoration has taken place per se, the artifacts typically present on older celluloid still there, but no missing cells. The imperfections are most noticeable at the very beginning of the first film reel. I imagine, in spite of the evidence on The Long And Winding Road on "Beatles 1" that later restorations in the digital realm must have cleaned up these. Great stereo on everything from For You Blue onwards and good picture quality. It may have been taken from a VHS (or Beta) copy though, because the image is a little bit blurry. The end credits are missing, we are left with the still as the Beatles are leaving the roof, no titles superimposed on the picture. You may recall that Revolver TV's version of the rooftop footage included end credits about the 1992 restoration.
As mentioned, from For You Blue onwards, the new HMC version is in full stereo, which includes:
- For You Blue
- You Really Got A Hold On Me
- Shake Rattle And Roll
- Kansas City/Miss Ann/Lawdy miss Clawdy
- Dig It
- January 31st Apple Studio tracks
- January 30th Roof top tracks
A previously shared online bootleg DVD taken from the 16mm UK and German TV broadcasts of the film featured remastered mono sound from the Nagra reels as well as remastered stereo sound from the various stereo mixes. If you have this previous effort, the only track you didn't have in stereo before now was You Really Got A Hold On Me.
If you compare the image of the new HMC version to the UK/German hybrid bootleg DVD, the older release has a bigger, less cropped picture. The image of the new version, although in better quality, is missing a lot of the bottom part of the picture, compared to the UK/German hybrid DVD and it even has a little less (just a tad) at the bottom than the video from Revolver TV. As noted before though, the picture quality is the best ever, save for the glimpses Apple has given us on various documentaries like the Anthology DVD, the mini documentary on the 2009 remastered Let It Be CD and various clips used in promotion of Let It Be...Naked.
The HMC DVD is accompanied by a soundtrack CD (not reviewed here), all housed in a 24 page booklet, which includes a brief history of the film, a biography on Michael Lindsay-Hogg, some interview bits with George, John, Paul and Ringo from 1969, details about tracks from the film on "Anthology 3" and "Let It Be..Naked", stills from the film, the film poster and even an ad for the official "Beatles 1" cd/DVD/Blu-ray release.
See also our main Let It Be page.