Last Friday saw the release of The Beatles’ final song accompanied by a music video that saw John, Paul, George, and Ringo all performing together.
Of course, John Lennon was assassinated in 1980 while George Harrison died in 2001. So, the remaining Beatles enlisted director Peter Jackson to help create a partly AI-generated music video for the iconic band’s final tune — Now and Then.
It was a creative decision that was always going to cause a stir and while plenty of emotional fans loved it; there was been pushback from critics calling the video “chilling.”
Gizmodo: ‘Cosmic horror’
“Together, Jackson and the last two Beatles made what will surely go down as some of the worst artistic decisions in the history of pop culture.
“Peter Jackson said he has “genuine pride” in his first-ever music video, “and I’ll cherish that for years to come.” If that’s how he really feels, we should take his cameras away and let him think about what he’s done.”
AV Club: ‘Goofy time capsule’
“The blend of present-day McCartney and Starr with Sgt. Pepper-era Lennon and Harrison is jarring and frankly, a little goofy. (To be honest, it looks more like when someone adds a sticker GIF to their Instagram Story than a Peter Jackson-worthy visual effect.)”
Creative Bloq: ‘Troubling territory’
While the retro footage has been optimised to resemble modern camera quality, there’s still a strong uncanny feeling caused by disparities in the lighting, aesthetics and tone of the old clips. While I have no doubt that the project must have been a heartfelt labour of love for both McCartney and Starr, the choice to superimpose their late bandmates proves that just because we have access to AI technology, doesn’t always mean that it’s necessary (or appropriate) in every scenario.
The Daily Telegraph: ‘Digital necromancy’
In Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Lord of the Rings, uncanny spirits from beyond the grave chase our brave hobbit heroes to hell and back. Much the same effect is achieved in the director’s video to the new Beatles single, Now and Then – only instead of Ringwraiths from Mordor, Jackson has unleashed creepy reanimated footage of John Lennon and George Harrison trying to foist a new Fab song on the general public. In both cases, the results are equally chilling and deserve to be tossed into the cracks of doom.
“No question, it’s a bit unnerving to see the two departed Beatles joking and playing music with their old mates, especially in scenes with a beaming, dancing John Lennon. Director Peter Jackson said that the lack of suitable footage almost kept him from making the video, but that he was comforted by the contributions he received from all involved.”
The Daily Beast: ‘Should have let it be’
“The Peter Jackson music video is that well-intentioned curio that brings unexpected rewards. The director has done a lot for the Beatles—he’s humanized them. Jackson isn’t the sixth Beatle or whatever number we’re working on now, but he is an important contributor, and important to how people will know and meet the Beatles, including people who aren’t alive yet. The Beatles of the Get Back series had resonance as people, which matters, because the Beatles are so easily deified. Beatles work best as humans.
“The music video takes the form of a montage—the kind that might play at a retirement party, with images from assorted stages of the past, and moving images from the days of the so-called Threetles; visual shades of reaching the stage of life detailed in McCartney’s “When I’m Sixty-Four.” We’re not seeing the soaring creativity of the promotional films for “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” but rather a wry, winsome sincerity.”