Beatles filmmaker had to convince Disney to break ‘non-swearing rule’

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Filmmaker Peter Jackson had to convince Disney to break its non-swearing rule for the new Beatles documentary, he revealed.

Having spent years cutting more than 57 hours of footage down to a three-part documentary, the Beatles fan and “massively successful” film director had to persuade Disney to permit swearing for the first time.

“We’ve had to have a discussion with Disney about the swearing. The Beatles are scouse boys and they freely swear but not in an aggressive or sexual way.

“We got Disney to agree to have swearing, which I think is the first time for a Disney channel. That makes them feel modern, too,” Jackson told the Radio Times.

EE British Academy Film Awards 2019 – Arrivals – London
Peter Jackson (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Jackson was approached by Apple Corps, who manage the Beatles legacy, asking if he was interested in reviewing hours of footage and twice as much audio, which had been recorded in January 1969, with a view to making it into a film.

Initially intended to be for the cinema, The Beatles: Get Back turned into three two-hour long films for Disney+, which the filmmaker attributed to the pandemic.

“The cinemas were closed and I had nothing to do but to keep editing. I kept finding new stuff and new ways to tell the story. It ended up being six hours.

“I thought I couldn’t do it justice as anything shorter. And you can’t help but be aware that this is historical footage. I was very aware of my responsibility to get this into the world and not have it disappear into a vault again,” Jackson said.

The filmmaker revealed that “ultimate Beatles fan” Sir Paul McCartney was pleased it was not a break-up movie and that it had righted some wrongs about the final period of The Beatles.

Jackson added: “To this day, I have never got over the fact that there was actual fly-on-the-wall footage shot of any band working in the 60s.

“The fact it happened, and it happened with the Beatles, is amazing. You watch them at work and see them much more honestly than in any other Beatles footage. People won’t believe it when they see it. It’s like going back in a time machine.”

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