Sir Peter Jackson knew he had the right concept for the final Beatles song 'Now and Then'

Publish Date
Monday, 6 November 2023, 8:39AM

The video for The Beatles' new song ‘Now and Then’ made George Harrison’s son cry, director Sir Peter Jackson has shared.

The late guitarist was part of the legendary group alongside Sir Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Sir Ringo Starr and his son Dhani, 45, and widow Olivia Harrison have been responsible for keeping his legacy alive and making decisions on his behalf about his music and the band on his behalf since his death in November 2001 at the age of 58 from lung cancer.

'Lord of the Rings' director Jackson has revealed that Dhani was "immediately" moved when he saw his early work on the short film to accompany the song and he knew then that his concept was correct.

In an interview on the official Beatles website, he said: "After we had separated John’s voice on the demo tape over a year ago, Giles [Martin] had produced an early mix of 'Now And Then'. This had been sent to me back in 2022. I loved it. Since then I must have listened to 'Now And Then' over 50 times, purely for pleasure.

"Now I started listening to it intently for different reasons. I was hoping that ideas or inspiration for the short film would somehow float up from the music. And that began to happen. As I kept listening, it felt like the song was creating ideas and images that started forming in my head - without any conscious effort from me.

"We wanted the short film to bring a few tears to the eye, but generating emotion using only archive footage is a tricky thing. Fortunately, the simple power of this beautiful song did a lot of the work for us, and we finished the first 30 or 40 secs of the film fairly quickly.

"Having done that, we jumped straight to the ending and tried to craft something that could adequately sum up the enormity of The Beatles’ legacy - in the last few seconds of their final recording. This proved to be impossible ... I realised we needed the imagination of every viewer to do what we couldn’t, and have each viewer create their own personal moment of farewell to The Beatles - but we had to gently steer everyone to that place. I had some vague ideas, but didn’t really know how to achieve this.

"Fortunately, Dhani Harrison happened to be visiting NZ at this time. I discussed the ending with him, and described one vague idea I’d been toying with. His eyes immediately filled with tears - so that is the way we went."

Jackson was responsible for isolating Lennon's voice from the 1970s demo - originally recorded with the late musician playing the piano as well - which had been presented to Paul by Yoko Ono back in 1994 when the three remaining Beatles were working on new music for their 'Anthology' project.

Despite his success and skill as a director and the fact he had worked with Paul and Ringo closely on the 'Get Back' documentary, Jackson, 62, felt the pressure being the man responsible for creating the last ever Beatles music video.

He said: "When Apple asked me to make the music video, I was very reluctant - I thought my next few months would be a hell of a lot more fun if that tricky task was somebody else’s problem, and I could be like any other Beatles fan, enjoying the night-before-Christmas anticipation as the release of a new Beatles song and music video approached ... I could have that experience once again - all I had to do was say no to The Beatles.

"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. This created intense insecurity in me because I’d never made a music video before, and was not able to imagine how I could even begin to create one for a band that broke up over 50 years ago, had never actually performed the song, and had half of its members no longer with us.

"It was going to be far easier to do a runner."

This article was first published on Bang Showbiz 

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