Imagine: John Lennon Reviews
Much of this film comes from the Lennono archives, and as such has a grainy quality, but that's to be expected - what makes this special is how director Andrew Solt mixes in audio from hundreds of hours of prior interviews with Lennon and keeps the narrative going forward, chronicling the life and times of music icon and political activist John Lennon.
The footage of Beatlemania, with remixes of classic tunes easily propels the first third of the film, but it is with the breakup of the Fab Four that the film turns more introspective and gives insight into John the person, rather than John the Beatle. Glossing over John's drug use and his reliance on Yoko to "take care of him", is a failing, and yet the film does a fine job of portraying the enigma and letting you decide for yourself if he was just a guy trying to do right and using his fame not to keep in the spotlight, but to actually make the world a better place. Personally I can have it both ways - fully aware of the irony of the closing video of John at his white piano in the drawing room of his 100 acre mansion crooning "imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can?"
Of course he is more sincere in his peace activism - writer of the anthems "Give Peace A Chance" and "All You Need Is Love" are heartfelt tomes to an age of self enlightenment, where he is saying that there is no reason to not be at peace, not only at the national level, but the personal one as well. I think that here is the soul of the man, trying to reach out to every other tortured soul and say "it's all right".
There is much footage here that is duplicated in the later Beatles Anthology, and if you've seen that more complete history, then this one leaves a bit to be desired - but since it focuses more on John's life, post Beatles, then this is a must see for everyone, not just music fans, as it truly sheds a light on the social and political mores of that mystical age of unrest and discovery that was the 60's.
Wherever you land in there, he was an interesting and influential personality, and Imagine details much of that. But as a movie about John Lennon and The Beatles, it isn't as large and compelling as it could have and should have been.
I think one of the most important moments in the life of a John Lennon-sized star is to be candid when people need you to be but don't want you to be -- when the kid who worships you comes to your front lawn and says, "What did you mean when you said, 'You can radiate anything you are, you can penetrate anything you are?'" you have to be John Lennon and say, "It's a nonsense song," and, "I had a good shit this morning, and I'm singing about me and Yoko," and explain that it could relate to your life coincidentally but it doesn't reveal all the secrets to it.
The music, of course, is phenomenal.