If These Walls Could Sing (2023)

If These Walls Could Sing (2023)

Mary McCartney gives a private tour to the iconic British recording studio that’s home for the country’s biggest artists

7.0

Movie

United States of America
English
Documentary, Music
2023
MARY MCCARTNEY
Cilla Black, Cliff Richard, David Gilmour
86 min

TLDR

It’s a documentary that works well enough, even if it feels too conventional for an iconic recording studio.

What it's about

After nearly a century since it got established, Abbey Road Studios finally opens its doors for a private tour, detailing its history from its shift from the merger that started it all, to its shifts in the recording industry, to the personal stories of the artists that recorded here.

The take

With nearly a century to cover, If These Walls Could Sing had the daunting task of giving justice to the history of the iconic Abbey Roads Studios. In 89 minutes, Mary McCartney outlines the studio’s history through archival footage and a stacked selection of artist interviews, popping only in random moments to organize the timeline. With the wide selection of artists, the film can feel scattered, as it jumps from classical music, to rock and roll, and to film scoring. The documentary doesn’t really go in-depth into how the studio developed its sound, but there are some interesting insights into certain tracks, like how the studio approached contracts, experimentation, different genres, and technology. While the film relies too much on nostalgia, it’s still an interesting tour based on the subject matter alone.

What stands out

If These Walls Could Sing inherently has an interesting subject matter, that anyone could slap the archival footage and interviews together in the editing timeline, and call it a day. Being the daughter of one of the studio’s biggest artists, Mary McCartney could certainly reach out to connections to get more interviews for the documentary. However, with her at the helm, it does take a slightly personal approach in its cinematography. The camera loves tracking the empty studio building, taking its time to move around its interiors as the tracks play, taking in details that feel like a child peeking into their parents’ workplace. The artists featured are also interviewed in the locations they recorded. While the film dedicates so much time to the Beatles, and tackles topics that have already been seen in other documentaries, it’s interesting how McCartney showcases how the physicality of the building affected certain tracks.

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