The Beatles - Best of the Twickenham Sessions Vol. 1
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The world premiere of the film was in New York City on 13 May 1970. One week later, UK premieres were held at the Liverpool Gaumont Cinema and the London Pavilion. None of the Beatles attended any of the premieres. The Beatles won an Oscar for Let It Be in the category "Original Song Score", which Quincy Jones accepted on their behalf. The soundtrack also won a Grammy for "Best Original Score".
Initial reviews were generally unfavourable; the British press were especially critical, with The Sunday Telegraph commenting that "it is only incidentally that we glimpse anything about their real characters—the way in which music now seems to be the only unifying force holding them together, and the way Paul McCartney chatters incessantly even when, it seems, none of the others are listening." Time said that "rock scholars and Beatles fans will be enthralled" while others may consider it only a "mildly enjoyable documentary newsreel."
Later reviews were more favourable, although rarely glowing, as the historical significance of the film's content factored into critics' assessments. Leonard Maltin rated the film as 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "uneven" and "draggy", but "rescued" by the Beatles' music. The TLA Video & DVD Guide, also rating it as 3 out of 4 stars, described the film as a "fascinating look at the final days of the world's most famous rock group, punctuated by the Beatles' great songs and the legendary 'rooftop' concert sequence. ... It is important viewing for all music fans." Rotten Tomatoes reported that 75% of twelve critics' reviews were positive; user reviews were 86% positive.
Lindsay-Hogg told Entertainment Weekly in 2003 that reception to Let It Be within the Beatles camp was "mixed"; he believes McCartney and Lennon both liked the film, while Harrison disliked it because "it represented a time in his life when he was unhappy ... It was a time when he very much was trying to get out from under the thumb of Lennon–McCartney."
The film was first released on VHS, Betamax and LaserDisc in 1981 by Magnetic Video, and on RCA CED videodisc in 1982. The transfer to video was not considered high quality; in particular, the already-cropped theatrical version was again cropped to a 4:3 aspect ratio for television (see pan and scan). The lack of availability has prompted considerable bootlegging of the film, first on VHS and later on DVD, derived from copies of the early 1980s releases. The early eighties also saw the film released on VHS and Betamax in Germany and the Netherlands, these versions were not the same transfer as the USA release, as they were based on the native 4:3 aspect ratio from the original 16mm negative, thus presenting the film as less cropped than the US releases.
The movie was remastered from the original 16 mm film negative by Apple Corps in 1992, with a few of those scenes used in The Beatles Anthology documentary. After additional remastering, a DVD release was planned to accompany the 2003 release of Let It Be... Naked, including a second DVD of bonus material, but it never materialised. In February 2007, Apple Corps' Neil Aspinall said, "The film was so controversial when it first came out. When we got halfway through restoring it, we looked at the outtakes and realised: this stuff is still controversial. It raised a lot of old issues."