Peter Jackson: Music video for new Beatles song to feature ‘unseen’ footage

Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Sir Ringo Starr and John Lennon (PA)
Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Sir Ringo Starr and John Lennon (PA)

Director Peter Jackson has revealed the music video for the Beatles final song will feature recently “unearthed” and “unseen” footage of the Fab Four.

The filmmaker is pairing with the band again for what will be his first music video following the success of his 2021 documentary The Beatles: Get Back.

The visuals will accompany the highly anticipated track, titled Now And Then, which was written and sung by the late John Lennon and later developed by the other band members Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ringo Starr and the late George Harrison.

The track – sourced from a Lennon vocal and piano demo recorded in the late 1970s, using technology to extricate and isolate his voice – will be released on Thursday while the music video will debut on Friday.

After the death of Lennon in 1980 aged 40, his wife Yoko Ono gave the recording to the remaining Beatles in 1994 along with Free As A Bird and Real Love, which were released by the band in the same decade.

During this period, Harrison, Sir Paul and Sir Ringo recorded new parts and completed a rough mix for Now And Then in 1995 with producer and musician Jeff Lynne.

However, the band did not release the song, citing issues extracting Lennon’s vocals and piano in a clear mix due to limited technology at the time. Harrison later died in November 2001 aged 58.

Jackson’s recent Beatles documentary used audio restoration technology that allowed for vocals, music and conservations by the band to be isolated, a technique which they have now used for Now And Then, which helped separate the vocal from the piano.

The director admitted he was initially “very reluctant” to take on creating a music video for the song due to scale of the task.

In a statement shared to the Beatles website, he wrote: “To be honest, just thinking about the responsibility of having to make a music video worthy of the last song The Beatles will ever release produced a collection of anxieties almost too overwhelming to deal with.

“My lifelong love of The Beatles collided into a wall of sheer terror at the thought of letting everyone down.”

After voicing his concerns about the challenges due to a lack of footage and half of the members of the band being no longer alive, he said Apple “unearthed over 14 hours of long forgotten film shot during the 1995 recording sessions” and Sir Paul and Sir Ringo filmed footage of themselves performing.

He said he was also supplied with “a few precious seconds of The Beatles performing in their leather suits, the earliest known film of The Beatles and never-seen-before”.

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

The filmmaker said the intention behind the video was to “bring a few tears to the eye” and feels the “simple power of this beautiful song” did a lot of work for them.

Alongside the poignant moments, it will feature unseen outtakes of the Beatles acting “relaxed, funny and rather candid”.

He added: “To be honest, while we hope we’ve given The Beatles a suitable final farewell, that’s something you’ll need to decide for yourselves when it’s finally released – only a few days from now.

“Having got to the end, I’m very happy I’m not waiting for the release of somebody else’s Now And Then music video. I have genuine pride in what we made, and I’ll cherish that for years to come.”

On November 10, two compilation albums – 1962-1966, The Red Album, and 1967-1970, The Blue Album – will be re-released featuring 21 newly added tracks.

A 12-minute documentary, written and directed by Oliver Murray, known for My Life As A Rolling Stone, and with commentary from Sir Ringo and Sir Paul, will be released at 7.30pm on November 1 on The Beatles’ YouTube channel.

The song will be released at 2pm on November 2 as a double A-side with the band’s 1962 debut single Love Me Do, and cover art by US artist Ed Ruscha.

A music video will debut on November 3.