What the Beatles' Abbey Road Crosswalk Looks Like Today

A short documentary revisits a famous strip of London asphalt


Chris Purcell's lyrical short film, Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? explores a regular old crosswalk in the St. John’s Wood district of London — the place where the Beatles took a few short steps into pop culture history. Yes, it’s that crosswalk — the one where the fab four are captured for all time on the cover of the Beatles’ famous album.

The image was the result of a quick 10-minute photo session back in the summer of 1969, turning a pedestrian area into a full-fledged tourist attraction. Today, you can even monitor the crossing via live streaming webcam. And, perhaps it’s that accessibility — that averageness — that makes the location so appealing. Out in the open, not caged behind the walls of some locked-down photo studio, the most famous band in history took a short stroll. And, if you’re so inclined, you too can walk in their footsteps, literally.

As for his inspiration, Purcell writes, “I have long wanted to produce something Beatles related that could be made on a small self-funded budget. I also wanted to make something a little bit quirky and different. The idea behind this film seemed to do that, as well as appealing to a slightly unhealthy interest I have in street furniture!” To get close-up shots of the Belisha beacon, Purcell tracked down a factory that makes the yellow crossing lights and bought two, which now grace his production office.

The film excels because it eschews traditional documentary convention — gone are the talking heads interviews, replaced by artistic macro shots, poetic voice over, and interview snippets. It has picked up awards at the NYC Independent Film Festival and the UK Film Festival, as well as a staff pick mention on Vimeo.

For more work by Chris Purcell, visit his website http://www.rightanglefilms.co.uk/.

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Ivan Kander is a filmmaker, writer, video editor, and motion-graphic artist from Washington, D.C. He is also an assistant editor at the short-film curation site, Short of the Week. His personal site is www.lucky9studios.com.

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