DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Paul McCartney's Get Back

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Elliott, Feb 4, 2005.

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  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]

    Paul McCartney’s Get Back


    [​IMG][​IMG]/[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Studio: Lions Gate
    Year: 1991
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 92 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Standard (4:3)
    Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround
    Subtitles: English (cc)
    Retail Price: $19.95





    I guess I should admit right from the start that I’ve never been a huge fan of The Beatles but I can certainly understand their appeal. Without starting a war in this thread, I’ve always enjoyed the later day songs but some of the early albums never really struck a core with me. I should probably also go on to admit that I actually prefer Paul McCartney solo and when I do listen to The Beatles, it’s often from the live DVD of Paul’s 2002 world tour, which I was lucky enough to see in person at the April 11th show in Chicago.

    Since I haven’t followed the group too closely, my brief bit of research on Get Back is that this was the first time Paul had toured in thirteen years and this video was taken from forty-five different cities in thirteen countries and that includes 184,368 people in Rio de Janeiro, which is in the Guiness World Records for the most people in attendance for a concert. Having just recently watched A Hard Day’s Night, I was interested that Richard Lester also filmed this concert, which contains plenty of classics from The Beatles as well as work from Wings and McCartney’s current (at the time) album.

    As a smaller fan, I was really letdown by this film not only in the actual filmmaking aspect but I also felt the concert itself was really disappointing especially after loving the Back in the U.S. disc. Right from the start it appeared McCartney’s voice wasn’t in the greatest shape but this here didn’t sound too bad. Again, it was just disappointing compared to that 2002 tour. The biggest problem I had with McCartney was the performance itself. I’m not sure how this tour was looked at but this film really leads to a boring performance and it appears through the track that the singer really isn’t into the thing.

    Band on the Run is a personal favorite of mine and it would seem like a good opener but the lack of energy really set a slow pace for the rest of the show. Another favorite from that 2002 tour was The Long and Winding Road, which was full of wonderful emotion yet here it appears McCartney is simply singing by the numbers and it appears he’s tired of singing the thing, which is strange since this was his first tour in thirteen years. Other Beatles favorites like Back in the USSR and I Saw Her Standing There don’t fare any better.

    The concert (and Paul) picks up a bit of steam with Let it Be and Hey Jude but I think these are two songs that not even a drunk could mess up. Throughout the twenty-one tracks these two were the only once that got me moving in the slightest bit. Outside the rather shaky performance, director Richard Lester really doesn’t do anyone any favors by cutting up the concert with some of the dumbest footage I’ve seen in a concert film. The Beatles footage is certainly nice to see but other stuff like the astronauts on the moon is just pointless and really doesn’t add anything to the song. For some strange reason Lester seems to think people want to see clips over McCartney.

    I was really looking forward to this film but sadly I was left disappointed at each and every turn. I really loved McCartney in concert but this here really left a bad taste in my mouth. Again, I’m not an expert on The Beatles or their solo tours but this was one of the most disappointing concerts I’ve seen. Perhaps it was just the timeframe this thing was recorded because even my favorite Bob Dylan was going through a bad period during this time. Get Back will certainly be getting back in its case and won’t get another play from me.


    VIDEO---The film is presented full frame but I’m really not sure if this is the correct ratio or not. If this thing played theatrically then it should have been matted here but I’m not certain about this so perhaps a fan of the film will speak up on this issue.

    Aspect ratio aside, we’ve got a fairly ugly transfer here. The darker scenes appear way too dark and there’s small amounts of dirt on the print, which can clearly be seen on bigger display systems. I’m going to guess this was originally a very colorful concert but the lack of any detail really drowns that out here. The colors are all very muted and faded, which adds to the ugliness. I didn’t see one strong bit a detail anywhere through the film, which will disappoint most. Another issue is some minor bleeding, which occurs throughout the film. I think it can easily be said this was taken directly from a VHS source and while I haven’t seen the VHS, I might take a guess a say it would offer better quality.

    AUDIO---We get a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround track, which I’m unhappy to report is the worst sounding track that I’ve heard in a very long time. We could look at this in various ways but no matter which way you look at it you’re going to be severely disappointed in this thing. Some might say you can’t expect too much from something made in 1991 but that excuse can’t be made anymore especially after the brilliant sounding Live Aid. I really don’t know where to start with this track but I guess the opening song of “Band on the Run” would be a good place. As soon as the music starts up things are so low sounding that I actually thought I had accidentally turned the volume all the way down. I normally listen to concert DVDs set at 20 but I had to crank this thing up to 30 and I still couldn’t feel any punch. McCartney’s voice is very low throughout, which sometimes makes the lyrics hard to understand. The musical instruments aren’t in any better shape because they all bleed together and nothing comes off sounding very fresh. The worst part is when McCartney and the band go to punch things up and jam. The “louder” parts of the concert sound just as quiet as the dead space in between the songs. This was my first time viewing this film but I can’t help but think that even a VHS would sound better than this thing.

    EXTRAS---We get trailers for Buena Vista Social Club and The Five Heartbeats, which still carry the Artisan logo. The funny thing is that the previous are advertising these as “now on VHS”.

    OVERALL---I’m not sure how die-hard Beatles fans look at this show but I was really letdown by the entire thing from start to finish. If I enjoy an artist I’ll usually listen to whatever they do but this thing here won’t go back into my player. If you’re a fan then I’d recommend the Back in the U.S. disc long before this thing here. Sadly, if you are a fan then you’re going to be bitterly disappointed with this transfer, which looks horrid. Even worse is the incredibly bad Stereo track, which adds no life to the concert. From the “now on VHS” clips on the trailers, I think I can fairly say this thing was taken from a VHS source and no added work was done. In other words, if you own the VHS then there’s no need to upgrade here.


    Release Date: Out Now
     
  2. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    Michael, you know that I'm a diehard Beatles and Solo Beatles fan and compulsive collector, but even I told you in advance that this one sucked! I am a completist and I own just about every official (and over 200 "unofficial") VHS tapes, DVD, Record and CDs these guys ever made from the 1960s into 2005, but the GET BACK concert film is absolutely horrible and it's one time where I broke my own rule of obtaining each and every item from the ex-Beatles and I refuse to own this thing!

    When I watch a concert, I'd much rather have a straight performance with no film clips -- or at least if they're going to intercut footage between songs, I'd rather see images that relate to the artist. Another problem is that, if I'm remembering correctly, this film consists of various versions of songs all cut together from different performances; so, as a result, we see Paul with his dyed hair changing colors and his clothing switching in the middle of one single tune!

    I think you're wrong though when you say "maybe Paul was going through a bad period during this time, like my favorite Bob Dylan was". During this time, McCartney was indeed very excited about "getting back" to touring again for the first time in 13 years. Even as a longtime fan, I missed seeing him in concert when he played in 1976 with Wings, so I caught two of his shows at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1989 and then another two at Giants Stadium in 1990. It is interesting that I thought he was a little "off" at those Garden shows, and that he fared better when he returned to touring a few years later for his 1993 Tour.

    But overall, my main problem with GET BACK was not so much in Paul as it was with the way this MTV montage was edited. Really, really awful. I'd advise you to stay away from another badly-made "film" called PAUL IS LIVE, which is from that 1993 tour but just as poorly made.
     
  3. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    Part of the reason this film looks so bad (and always has) to me is that it has the look of video transferred to film. I bought the original on VHS years ago, and noticed that the whole thing runs slow, possibly as a PAL 25fps video simply speed reduced for 24fps motion picture presentation. The pitch is considerably lower that the companion live album. I've considered importing it to my PC, fixing the speed issue with Premiere, and burning it to DVD. It can't look much worse.

    The "Fool On The Hill" was always disappointing on the "Live Fantastic" album, and the video montage is worse. "Coming Up" is another example of a bad arrangement of a great rocker (compared to the 1979 Glasgow version). The flow of this abridged show compared to the concert sequence is also somewhat disruptive. The worst thing about this video for me is that it spends more time on the audience than on the show you paid to see.

    I'm less critical of "Paul Is Live", because it rocks better and I actually preferred Off The Ground to Flowers In The Dirt, and saw Sir Paul in Winnipeg for that tour. It still suffers the same fate, because live concerts usually look better on tape than on film ("Stop Making Sense" being the big exception), and you get a few seconds of videotape on that as Paul comes out on stage, then it again flips to "film" for the rest.


    So the DVD was made from the old 1" video master tape!! [​IMG]
     
  4. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    I preferred FITD to Off the Ground, but both concert films were horrible. I wasn't a big fan of Driving Rain but Back in the U.S....the album was good but the DVD wasn't. The Red Square special (which is coming to DVD this year) was much better.

    I own Paul is Live, and I will pick up Get Back. I'm just glad it's not a $40 import anymore.
     
  5. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    JOE---I'm really not sure if I was being unfair to the film and McCartney but I thought this thing was even worse when compared to the concert I saw in person and the eventual DVD release. As you know, I listen to that thing at least five times a year but I have no problem saying I won't bother with this thing again. I love the "greatest hits" songs on this disc but I really felt the performance was bad but perhaps I was just expecting something better???
     
  6. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I definitely agree!
     
  7. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I don't think you're being unfair to the film; it sucks! [​IMG] If you were expecting something more, I don't know - I told you in advance it wasn't good. [​IMG]

    I liked Paul's live show later as well. I know you like BACK IN THE U.S. better, and I agree that it's a better film of his concert.

    This is a bit off topic, but I'd still urge you to seek out the REVOLVER album, ABBEY ROAD and especially THE BEATLES (aka The White Album). If you tend to enjoy the later Beatles, these are good choices. I know you said you're not as wild about the earlier Beatles, but you did recently say you liked the early music from A HARD DAY'S NIGHT.
     
  8. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Unfortunately, none of the three McCartney concert tour films currently on DVD - "Get Back", "Paul is Live" and "Back in the US" - are any good as documents of the shows. ("Live at the Cavern" is strong, but it's not from an actual TOUR.) Paul sounds the best on "Back", but I think it's almost unwatchable and it doesn't represent the concert experience AT ALL.

    The only good McCartney tour video is "Rockshow". Too bad it's not out on DVD! [​IMG]
     
  9. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    Back in the US is pretty lame--good concert, but way too many crowd shots.

    Rockshow is good; I have a VHS bootleg of it. The Red Square special I mentioned earlier was from this past tour and was very good; a DVD is due this year.
     
  10. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Rockshow is GREAT! I still have a legit VHS of it around here somewhere. It'd probably crumble if I actually tried to watch it! [​IMG]
     
  11. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    Oddly enough, of late his television concert specials were all better than his concert films - "Unplugged", "Up Close" (Dec '92 Ed Sullivan Theater for 'Off The Ground'), and even "The PETA Concert For Party Animals". I think the more intimate atmosphere works a lot better than an arena concert.
     
  12. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    For what it's worth, the only time I ever won anything major in my life was when I called in a radio station and won tickets for this taping! My wife and I were given tickets to stand at the front of the stage, only about five feet to McCartney's right! Needless to say, it was a dream come true for a lifetime fan like me.
     
  13. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    I'd agree with this. Back in the US was taken from what was probably McCartney's best tour in 25 years, but the film is not good. I defy anyone watching it to be able to count to more than 4 seconds before there is a camera change. That effect goes throughout the film and is completely annoying. Far better to get the live CD of the same name (or Tripping the Live Fantastic, in the case of the 1990 tour) and enjoy it that way.
     

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