What a long strange trip it’s been, so they say.
After months of near misses, false landings and several odd missteps The Beatles epic documentary “Get Back” by famed director Peter Jackson FINALLY reached store shelves this past week!
No seriously, I’m not kidding. At least I don’t think so. After all the weirdness of this release it’s hard to tell.
On July 12th the “Get Back” documentary arrived as both a 3-disc Collector’s Blu-ray set as well as a more barebone 3-DVD set that features just the three discs stacked on top of themselves with no special packaging whatsoever.
(Note: Apparently the DVD version is next to impossible to actually find on store shelves – I have yet to see it in person in a store myself – but it is apparently available online)
Unfortunately there is still a bit of weirdness with availability of the Blu-ray set as even though people have managed to buy it many retailers are getting limited stock and while I have seen the Blu-ray package in one store it is still pretty scarce on store shelves in my area – at least so far anyway.
Even online retailers like Bullmoose and Amazon show the Blu-ray set as currently not available while Target stores sold out of their pre-order supply and even The Beatles own Website in the US says that are now out of stock of the Blu-ray.
On release week, seriously? I guess this is going to become common place I’m afraid.
Readers of this blog may remember that this past April I posted a blog in which I thought for sure the “Get Back” documentary had finally been released at that time – well, the DVD version anyway.
In fact I happened to buy a copy of said DVD set from none other retailer than Amazon. Surely Amazon wouldn’t stock an illegitimate product from such a high profile act as The Beatles? The funny thing is I’m not one hundred percent sure it is legit but I’m thinking it more than likely is – are you confused yet?
The DVD itself that I received while a very barebones package looks like the genuine article. The picture and sound are very good and I can’t imagine that Amazon would have knowingly stocked a bootleg version.
It must be, and I’m only surmising here, that Amazon had been sitting on old stock of the “Get Back” DVD set that was originally supposed to be issued this past February and decided to release them in dribs and drabs as it was available for a few days then gone then available again – very strange.
Supposedly a technical glitch halted the Blu-ray release which was also to come out in February but there was no word on if this defect only affected the Blu-ray version as the DVD wasn’t really mentioned as being defective – it was just implied.
Strangely enough there was next to no word officially from either Disney who distributes this set or Apple which is The Beatles company who own this material and put the plans in motion to get director Peter Jackson to make the documentary.
If this doesn’t give you the impression that Disney doesn’t really support physical media anymore it certainly should. What other explanation could there be? This set has certainly not been made widely available at least as far as I can see and the complete silence from Disney about the total cluster of this release speaks volumes.
Disney supports streaming its content via Disney+ and in the future that looks like it will be the only game in town folks. Truth be told I’m sure that’s what most major studios are feeling but it’s becoming more clear with each and every new release whether it be a movie or music for that matter that owning a product is becoming a thing of the past (sigh).
Still following me? Don’t worry I’m still a little foggy about everything too.
Anyway I finally managed to get a hold of a copy of the Blu-ray set and now that I own it and have skimmed through it I must say I am pleased as punch that I decided to get it.
That wasn’t always my intention truth be told.
I was happy enough with the picture and sound of the DVD version that I managed to buy from Amazon but after reading a few online reviews saying that the Blu-ray set had better quality than the Disney+ streaming version I thought ‘hey, why not get the Blu-ray version’? (not that it was much of a hard well for me anyway lol).
Well I tried to pre-order the Blu-ray “Get Back” from Amazon but then a couple of weeks ago before the release date Amazon mysteriously cancelled my order saying that they couldn’t get more stock.
From then on the Blu-ray hasn’t been listed as available on Amazon except for a third-party seller who must have old stock copies from February that they selling for more than twice the cost of the new copy.
Well I finally managed to get a hold of a copy of the Blu-ray a couple of days ago and here are my thoughts:
First off the Blu-ray set has way better packaging.
It has an attractive hard cover that also holds a hard cover book inside. The book contains sleeves covered in pictures from the “Get Back” sessions and those sleeves hold the discs (see photos above and below). There are also four small card photos of each Beatles in a slot in the back of the inner book which is a nice touch has well.
Compared to the skimpy presentation of the DVD this set is total improvement. I’m not sure why Disney couldn’t do both a DVD and Blu-ray set this way but as far as packaging is concerned the Blu-ray wins hands down.
Now to picture quality.
I watched the Disney+ streaming version of “Get Back” way back in November and remembered being impressed with its picture quality even though on my TV the Disney+ app was glitchy and froze up frequently (one of the major strikes against streaming).
I thought the DVD set was a slight notch below the Disney+ version and assumed the Blu-ray wouldn’t be a major upgrade but I have to say that after watching this new Blu-ray set I think the picture quality of “Get Back” not only matches the Disney+ stream I saw but improves upon it.
I have read a lot of reviews that are down on the heavy DNR (digital noise remover) applied by director Peter Jackson to “Get Back” but to me it’s worlds better than any other footage of these sessions that I’ve ever seen. I think removing the grain from the film does give the “Get Back” footage more of the look of a videotape which makes viewing these sessions come to life in way that film doesn’t.
If that was Peter Jackson’s intention – to make these sessions seem like you are actually here – then he achieved it well and it works for me. I’m fine with how the “Get Back” documentary looks.
Whatever your feeling is on how Peter Jackson handled the footage I think this new Blu-ray version is definitely an improvement over the DVD version I got in April so I’m very pleased.
Another thing I noticed video-wise comparing the DVD to Blu-ray is that the on-screen dialog captions that come up when The Beatles are talking look much smaller and sharper on this new Blu-ray version much like what I saw on Disney+.
The captioning on the DVD version looks almost cheap at times as it’s much bigger and blurrier and makes the video look much less professional looking than the Blu-ray version (again see photos below).
Since this is permanent on the screen and not true closed-captioning it’s baffling that there’s a difference. I wasn’t expecting the captioning to look that different.
Since all of the other titling onscreen throughout the documentary looks the same on DVD as well as Blu-ray I thought the dialogue captioning would be standard too. I can live with it on the DVD but I prefer the way the Blu-ray captioning looks compared to the DVD.
Not only is the video better but the 7.1 uncompressed PCM audio option on the Blu-ray, which is missing from the DVD set, is a much better listening experience than the sound of the DVD set. The 7.1 uncompressed PCM audio features much deeper sounding bass along with a much smoother sound and more clarity than the DVD version.
(Note 2: I don’t have the capability of 7.1 on my system but even the downmixed sound from the uncompressed 7.1 PCM audio sounds great on my system and beats out the sound of the DVD)
Again the DVD is fine and I like it it’s just that the Blu-ray audio is better and I prefer the way the Blu-ray sounds compared to the DVD.
Now what would really have made this Blu-ray set a complete home run would have been some nice bonus content.
It would have been great to have a bonus disc that featured either a restored version of the original “Let it Be” film (the 1970 film that featured some of the footage from these sessions) or even an option to view the complete rooftop concert by itself without the footage of the people on the street being interviewed.
Such a disc would have been great and too bad it wasn’t included.
Or was it?
Well to top off all the good bounty of new 1969 Beatles footage low and behold a grey market DVD/Blu-ray set entitled “Get Back: The Rooftop Concert” has also made its way to the world and does feature what would make a superb bonus disc to this new “Get Back” set.
As luck would have it a friend of mine happened to gift me this very underground set and to say it’s a nice bonus is an understatement.
The “Get Back: The Rooftop Concert” features not only the complete 1969 Beatles rooftop concert without any of the man on the street footage (just The Beatles) but it also features the IMAX version of the “Get Back” rooftop concert as it was shown in theaters earlier this year.
Also included is an option to view the main rooftop songs onscreen with all the camera angles from the “Get Back” documentary along with the same songs as they appear in the original “Let it Be” film. This is an option I didn’t think I’d enjoy but I must say it’s pretty darn cool (see photos of this screen below).
(Note 3: The very lower left-hand corner of the screen contains the footage of these songs that appeared in the “Let it Be” film)
Now I usually don’t mention grey area items unless they are really quite exceptional and this set my friends fits that bill. Oh and by the way I don’t endorse bootlegs and I have no idea where to find them but since this magical set made its way into my hands I thought I’d share its contents here.
So this is in fact my defacto bonus disc it’s just too bad that something like this couldn’t have been included in the official Blu-ray set. Well you can’t have everything and as it is this new Blu-ray set is a real treat and well worth adding to your collection if your a Beatles fan.
So there you go. After months of drama and weirdness at least an official Blu-ray set of the truly wonderful “Get Back” documentary is out there and able to be purchased.
And if your a Beatles fan I would say don’t hesitate getting a copy if you can find one as it’s highly likely that this set won’t be around very long as I doubt Disney is gung-ho on keeping it in print beyond what seems like a small first issue.
As usual there are plenty of photos of the “Get Back” set as well as the “Get Back: The Rooftop Concert” to keep you entertained so look above and below to see what they contain.
That’s all for now. I hope if you’re a Beatles fan you manage to get your hands on either the Blu-ray set (ideally) or the DVD set.
Both are good value and this nearly 8-hour documentary is well-worth your time as this is practically the only footage of The Beatles at work in the studio for hours on end creating their magical music.
If you own a Blu-ray player treat yourself to the Blu-ray set as it has the best picture and sound as well as grooviest packaging. The DVD is no slouch btw I just prefer the Blu-ray set.
Take care and be well and see you back here soon.
The last three images below are onscreen images from the “Get Back” Blu-ray set:
Below: Images taken onscreen from first issue DVD:
Below: Images taken from the packaging as well as onscreen from “Get Back: The Rooftop Concert” DVD/Blu-Ray set