Disney Wanted to Edit Out All Swearing From The Beatles: Get Back

Peter Jackson's new documentary series, The Beatles: Get Back, debuted on Disney+ on Thanksgiving taking fans into the making of the legendary band's iconic final studio album, Let it Be. It's a raw look at the band and the making of the album, and according to Jackson, Disney asked him to censor the series. In an interview with NME (via CBR), Jackson revealed that Disney asked him to remove all of the swearing from the series, but that it's a request he denied at the request of the surviving Beatles.

"Disney wanted to remove all the swearing," Jackson said. "And Ringo [Starr], Paul [McCartney] and [George Harrison's widow] Olivia said 'That's how we spoke. That's how we talked. That's how we want the world to see us.'"

He added that McCartney felt the documentary was raw and accurate and that Starr found it truthful, but more than that, upon seeing the completed project, they gave him no notes on things that they wanted to be changed.

"When they got to see the finished thing, I was expecting notes," Jackson said. "It would've just been normal to get a note saying, 'Oh, that bit where I say that – could you cut that out?' Or, 'Could you shorten the conversation there?' And I didn't get a single note. Not one request to do anything."

While Disney, with its family-friendly image, might be a platform where such censorship requests aren't entirely surprising, they're not the only company requesting or making changes to content over various concerns, including language. Recently, DC fans discovered that Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) had been censored on HBO Max with the film carrying a disclaimer that it had been edited for content. The R-rated film had its language and violence toned down. The HBO Max version of the film carries a TV-14 rating.

For Jackson, keeping the swearing in The Beatles: Get Back was important to maintaining the authenticity of the experience for the surviving Beatles.

"The truthfulness of it is important to them," he said. "They don't want a whitewash. They don't want it to be sanitized."  

The official description of The Beatles: Get Back is as follows: "The Beatles: Get Back takes audiences back in time to the band's January 1969 recording sessions, which became a pivotal moment in music history. The docuseries showcases The Beatles' creative process as they attempt to write 14 new songs in preparation for their first live concert in over two years. Faced with a nearly impossible deadline, the strong bonds of friendship shared by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr are put to the test. The docuseries is compiled from nearly 60 hours of unseen footage shot over 21 days, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969, and from more than 150 hours of unheard audio, most of which has been locked in a vault for over half a century. Jackson is the only person in 50 years to have been given access to this Beatles treasure trove, all of which has now been brilliantly restored. What emerges is an unbelievably intimate portrait of The Beatles, showing how, with their backs against the wall, they could still rely on their friendship, good humor, and creative genius. While plans derail and relationships are put to the test, some of the world's most iconic songs are composed and performed. The docuseries features – for the first time in its entirety – The Beatles' last live performance as a group, the unforgettable rooftop concert on London's Savile Row, as well as other songs and classic compositions featured on the band's final two albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be. The three-part docuseries includes never-before-seen, restored footage that at times includes explicit language, mature themes, and smoking. Viewer discretion is advised."

The Beatles: Get Back is streaming now on Disney+.

Image credit: Getty Images/Disney+