The documentary series “The Beatles: Get Back” has viewers buzzing from the level of intimate access the footage provides, and if you’re wondering what other documentaries are out there that might deliver similarly, we’ve got you covered.
Peter Jackson’s three-part “The Beatles: Get Back” assembles candid footage from the band writing and rehearsing what would eventually become the album “Let It Be,” all while tensions slowly simmer underneath. Fans watch knowing full well the band would be broken up for good within a year, but the documentary series offers unique insight into what made The Beatles one of the greatest bands of all time.
So what other documentaries are out there that are similar to “The Beatles: Get Back” and where are they streaming? Find out below.
“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” (2016)
If you can’t get enough of “The Beatles,” there’s another documentary from an Oscar-winning director that was released in the last decade. Ron Howard’s 2016 documentary “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” chronicles the band’s career from 1962 to 1966, during which they were pretty much touring non-stop. Consider it a prequel of sorts to “Get Back,” which finds the band exhausted from live performance and considering being a “recording band” instead. Howard’s film concludes with The Beatles’ final concert in San Francisco in 1966.
Where to Stream It: Hulu
“George Harrison: Living in the Material World” (2011)
George Harrison’s retirement from the Beatles is one of the biggest moments in “Get Back,” made all the more staggering by the fact that he seemed like such an agreeable team player in other sections of the documentary. Harrison was, in fact, an enigmatic and somewhat elusive figure, something that Martin Scorsese (whose other documentaries about The Band and Bob Dylan could have also made this list) fully investigates in this beautiful, oddly touching 208-minute marvel. By interviewing pretty much everybody who ever interacted with Harrison, including George Martin and Paul McCartney, he paints a full portrait of Harrison – not just the artist who affected so many, but also the man who had an even bigger impact on those around him. Just thinking about this documentary is enough to bring tears to your eyes.
Where to Stream It: HBO Max
“Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” (2004)
If you want to watch another documentary about a band on the brink of breaking up, 2004’s shockingly candid “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” is a fascinating and engrossing film. You don’t have to be a Metallica fan to be struck by the unique nature of this film, which began as a documentary about Metallica writing and recording a new album but took a turn when frontman James Hetfield abruptly leaves their custom studio to check himself into rehab – and returns months later with conditions that change the dynamic of the group. There’s a question of whether the documentary should continue, or whether the footage will ever see the light of day, and against the backdrop of all of this drama there’s fan backlash over the group’s lawsuit against Napster and a search for a new bassist to handle. It’s all laid bare, making this one of the few music documentaries that feels truly unfiltered.
Where to Stream It: Not currently available to stream, but available to rent
“Madonna: Truth or Dare” (1991)
Unlike “Get Back,” “Truth or Dare” is centered around a concert tour and not an album/special, but it does maintain the at times painfully intimate approach and fly-on-the-wall aesthetic. This is aided by the use of sumptuous black-and-white photography, which elevates the entire thing to truly iconic status. While David Fincher was talked about as a potential director, the duties eventually fell to Alek Keshishian, a young filmmaker whose thesis film at Harvard Madonna had seen and been impressed by. Noted at the time for its frank portrayal of homosexuality, it is a perfect early-90s time capsule, with Warren Beatty, Madonna’s then-beau (and costar from “Dick Tracy”) lurking in the shadows, wanting nothing to do with the documentary. (There’ a more wholesome cameo from height-of-his-fame Kevin Costner too.) Also, the songs all still slap. “Truth or Dare” was the most successful documentary of all time until “Bowling for Columbine” in 2002. It’s still one of the, if not best music documentaries, than the most entertaining.
Where to Stream It: Pluto TV
“Awesome; I F–kin’ Shot That!” (2004)
This might be the funniest and most ingeniously staged concert documentary of all time. The central conceit behind “Awesome; I F–kin’ Shot That” (directed by the dearly departed Adam Yauch under his Nathaniel Hornblower alias) is that the band gathered a bunch of fans ahead of a concert at Madison Square Garden. The team handed out camcorders and told them to shoot the concert from their vantage point; the only real directive was to never stop shooting. The final movie is a hectic hodgepodge of footage from these cameras, with some hilarious deviations (one videographer took their camera to the restroom; another is fixated on Ben Stiller and his then-wife Christine Taylor busting a move, etc.). It’s breathless and exhilarating and so, so much fun. (These days, after Yauch’s passing, it has a twinge of melancholy too.) It also serves as a transmission from another, largely cellphone-free time. The idea was so cool that Daft Punk borrowed it for a live music video taken from their “Alive 2007” album/tour.
Where to Stream It: Not currently available for streaming.
“Shut Up and Play the Hits” (2012)
“Shut Up and Play the Hits,” a documentary that chronicles the supposedly final show of James Murphy’s dance-rock outfit LCD Soundsystem, shares “Get Back’s” sense that the band is coming to an end. The documentary (which features camerawork by Spike Jonze) is bookended by Murphy looking wistful underneath the Madison Square Garden stage; you can sense that he’s coming to terms with something that he has given so much of his life to suddenly coming to an abrupt close. (It didn’t, of course; the band reformed a few years ago and are in the process of playing a residency in Brooklyn right now.) There’s a version of the documentary, released on Blu-ray, where you can see the entire concert, which was comprised of every song that Murphy had ever written as LCD Soundsystem, and an accompanying live album was also released. The difference between “Get Back” and “Shut Up and Play the Hits” is, of course, that Murphy knew that his project was coming to a close, while the Beatles (at least some of them) were still very opening to continuing.
Where to Stream It: Tubi, Kanopy and Pluto TV
“Stop Making Sense” (1984)
Maybe the most famous concert documentary of all time, it is stylistically bold and very much a concert film (filmed over four nights in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theater). But it shares with “Get Back” an honesty about who the band that is being portrayed were – in this case the Talking Heads. They were a bunch of friggin weirdos, led by an egomaniac genius, and shot, recorded, and edited beautifully by the singular vision of Jonathan Demme. This is a concert documentary so iconic (that wide-shouldered suit) that Kermit the Frog made fun of it. And it is still a total blast to watch; the music still feels like it’s being beamed backwards from the future, and the personality of David Byrne and the rest of the band is so clear and so wonderfully communicated. There really has never been anything quite like it since, and even Byrne’s Broadway show will just make you want to watch this again.
Where to Stream It: Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Tubi and Pluto TV
“Miss Americana” (2020)
Taylor Swift is one of the biggest artists in the world, and not unlike “Get Back,” her 2020 documentary “Miss Americana” finds a musician at a crossroads. The first half of the Netflix film essentially covers Swift’s rise to fame up through that run-in with Kanye West and a certain degree of backlash, but the second half of the film serves as kind of a feminist origin story as Swift reconsiders her public persona and chooses to speak out – both in words and song – during the Trump presidency. It’s an interesting look at Swift’s current trajectory with insight into her writing and recording process that is, frankly, surprising in its candor. Not quite as unfiltered as some of the other films on this list, but fascinating nonetheless.
Where to Stream It: Netflix
“The Sparks Brothers” (2021)
Last but not least, if you’re merely looking for a great new music documentary, director Edgar Wright’s 2021 film “The Sparks Brothers” is a must-watch. This epically enjoyable documentary covers, as the film puts it, “your favorite band’s favorite band” as the brother duo of Sparks have carved out a successful career just under the radar over the past 60 years. Even if you’ve never heard of Sparks in your life, you’ll find this documentary wildly enjoyable and will immediately want to start listening to their vast and varied catalogue.
Where to Stream It: Netflix