'Let it Be' Director Micheal Lindsay Hogg on Film's Restoration and Streaming Debut

Some highlights from today's New York Times interview with "Let it Be" director Michael Lindsay Hogg:

You have been working for decades to revive “Let It Be.” What finally changed?

Peter (Jackson) was the catalyst. He and I met in December 2018, before he really started on “Get Back,” and he said, “Tell me the story of ‘Let It Be’ — you know, what’s happened since you made it, because I’ve seen it pretty recently and I think that movie should come out.” So a year or two went by, and he told me that he had a very good relationship with Paul and Ringo and also with Sean Lennon and Olivia Harrison, George’s widow, as well as with Jonathan Clyde, who produced “Get Back” for Apple. So he started to advocate for “Let It Be” to come out. He and Clyde got a budget for the restoration work, and slowly it moved through Apple.

Is “Let It Be” just a short version of “Get Back”?

Peter very much didn’t want “Get Back” to look like he just pulled it from “Let It Be,” so if he wanted to show a scene that was in my film, he would show it from different angles and reconstruct it differently. There are scenes in “Let It Be” that aren’t in “Get Back.” They’re very different, although obviously they have many great similarities.

...How much does the digital restoration change the look and sound of “Let It Be”?

When Peter first showed me some restored images of the film, one was of a couple of the Beatles from the back, and their hair in the original looked very clumped. Then he said, “Now let me show you what we’ve been working on.” It was the same shot, but you could see the individual strands of hair. The new version is a 21st century version of a 20th century movie. It is certainly brighter and livelier than what ended up on videotape. It looks now like it was intended to look in 1969 or 1970, although at my request, Peter did give it a more filmic look than “Get Back,” which had a slightly more modern and digital look.

...As recently as 2021, Ringo said there was “no joy” in the film. Did the members of the band actually seem unhappy with it at the time?

Well, after we watched the rough cut in July, the day before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, John and Yoko [Ono], Paul and Linda McCartney, Peter Brown from Apple and me and my girlfriend went out for dinner at Provans in London. The film, I think, was regarded very much as a promising work in progress. There was no snarky business going on. We sat and had a good time like friends do. We talked about our childhoods, had a couple of bottles of wine. When we showed them the final cut in late November, we all went out for dinner again, to a place with a discothèque. We all had a nightcap and a chat, and Paul said he thought the movie was good. Ringo was jiving out on the dance floor. He’s a good dancer.