The Beatles, “Let It Be – The Movie” (His Masters Choice – HMC 035)
DVD – Full film, CD – soundtrack
The Beatles, “Cocksucker Blues” without the debauchery, sex and drugs, “Let It Be” is destined a chequered past. Unlike the Stones cinematic orgy, the Beatles swan song is derided for the fun that the Beatles weren’t having. Cooped up in a film studio in Twickenham during a dry January in 1969, coerced together by Paul McCartney and Michael Lindsay-Hogg (“Director” of the ‘Revolution’ and ‘Hey Jude’ promotional videos) each of the fabs decried their parts in the film as utterly miserable. Time, however, is a great healer, like watching a relationship dissipate in to a deathless mordancy at the time, watching the film after nearly 50 years shows a few more smiles than fist fights although there are smidgins of foul looks and bad tempers which will give some credence to the Beatles reluctance to finally release the film officially.
Since the film hasn’t been officially available since the 80’s (John maybe might have fought to have it released again knowing his love of apposite views) a bunch of bootleg videos, DVDs then Blu-Rays have been released to cover the gap – each one has tried to outdate the other in quality, upgrading from 1980’s laser-disk to Japanese broadcasts taken from high quality Beta-Max tapes recorded at home.
Thankfully, HMC, purveyors of quality releases since 2007 have come across a copy of the Ron Furmanek remastered version of the film from a very high quality video dub (Reportedly mastered in the late 1980’s for an early 1990’s home video release but scuppered before it could hit the shelves. Snippets of the film (Or rather half of the film – the ‘Apple studios’ half ) was uploaded to the internet in 2015 with fantastically remastered sound. All remixed to stereo sound with a picture quality that was fantastically upgraded to previous releases although not quite in “Anthology” or “1” quality.
The release as it stands is the full theatrical release on DVD along with a CD soundtrack of the film with it’s produced sound. The Apple section of which was reproduced on the Masterjedi release, “All I Want Is”, with the audio ripped from the internet video, having a closer source really gives HMC the edge.
The visuals are obviously taken from tape – the quality wouldn’t stand up to blu-ray scrutinisation – the aspect ratio (4:3) is not entirely compatible with a large, flat modern TV set (16:1) so unless you aren’t putting your space out for a larger TV, you will get the best of everything. If you’ve already geared your home up to the future or are watching this DVD on your laptop, you will get black bars down the side of your picture. It is slightly cropped from earlier releases at the bottom too so we get a little less than previous too.
Still, it’s better than nothing new but you’ll notice this slightly. The colour is much improved too, there are marks and blemishes present on the picture that give the film that bootleg feeling but, again, once Apple remaster this lot properly, it should all disappear.
As to the sound, there has been an earlier attempt at upgrading the sound on a bygone bootleg. Although successful previously, I prefer the sound of the Furmanek upgrade, his having access to more official releases, the sound is tighter to my ears and also ALL of the Apple material is now complete where the earlier bootlegs didn’t have the functionality to furnish everything.
Missing at the end are the credits. Maybe they were taken off to get past any censors to the DVD, the music continues however so nothing is clipped from the soundtrack. Unless you’re family of the key-grip or someone who worked in the catering van on the film, you won’t miss it.
As for the CD, it’s as you might expect. An excellent quality dub of the video and, of course, with the running time for CDs being 80 mins and the film pushing 81, the label have had to justify clipping some of the silence to make it fit. With this new remaster the Furmaneck treatment and the closeness to the original tape (As opposed to the internet upload) the transfer sounds better than the MasterJedi release mentioned earlier.
The DVD is separated in to 36 different chapters, the holding page is a simple apple in the style of Margaritte’s image that initially inspired Macca’s choice of record company logo.
As usual, the packaging is a talking point with the HMC releases – furnished in the tall gazette style packaging that the label have used for a few years now. It features a wealth of info regarding the recording, making, packaging and subsequent err-ing over the release of the movie is discussed, there is also a biography of Michael Lindsay-Hogg, soundbites from the Beatles c.1969, marketing for the original movie release and HMC’s nod to the official works of the Beatles – ‘Meat Free Monday’ gets a nod and so does the ‘1+’ release – A nice touch!
So until the film FINALLY gets it’s release (If they’re looking at the video clips for the “1” release, SURELY, it makes sense to scrub us the film if it hasn’t been done before. As if to give Apple a push in the right direction, HMC’s next release is rumoured to feature the outtakes from the film in the same quality as this release.
How do you like that, Apple?