this movie is hopefully playing in a theater near you!
This new documentary film traces John Lennon's life from the period 1966 to 1976,
as he transforms from beloved Beatle to anti-war activist. Inspiring millions to question
the validity of the VietNam war and to Give Peace A Chance, John Lennon was also targeted by the
U.S. government as a national threat. This movie also tells the story of how certain members of
that government tried to silence him.
I've loved The Beatles - all fab four of them - since they burst onto the American music scene
in early 1964. Catchy and clever from the start, their music quickly grew more creative, complex,
sophisticated and meaningful with each new record, as did their public personas.
Anyone who can remember the mid-60s will probably tell you that
Paul was the cute, diplomatic one who usually did most of the talking at concerts;
George was the introverted one, studious about his music and his inner life;
Ringo was the good natured boy-next-door and John...
ah, John was the most complicated. On stage he was a brilliant hard driving rock'n'roller;
out of the public eye,
he was often introspective: sketching and writing prose and poetry along with the hundreds of songs he
composed with Paul McCartney;
in interviews, he was clever, funny, sometimes sarcastic, but always compelling, even when
answering oft-repeated questions on inconsequential subjects.
He was the ubercool big brother
I wish I'd had.
Around 1966, John seemed to start taking life more seriously.
As his lyrics grew more thoughtful and insightful, so did his statements to the press.
Now John was also becoming known as the "controversial Beatle".
By the end of the 1960s, all of The Beatles had come out against the war in VietNam but John
and his new wife Yoko Ono became even more outspoken in the early 1970s and
many conservative men with political power like Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover
saw John Lennon's radical leftist peace activism as a subversive, communist-influenced force.
John and Yoko spoke up for the rights of women, protested the Vietnam War,
called for the release of imprisoned Black Panther Angela Davis and "White Panther" John Sinclair,
and demanded that Britain "leave Ireland for the Irish,"
all on one album alone,
Some Time in New York City!
The fact that Lennon's musical career with The Beatles gave him influence over American youth
concerned many officials in the Nixon White House, since his fame would make him a powerful draw
at politically charged anti-Nixon concerts and rallies before the 1972 election.
Give Peace a Chance and
Imagine became anti-war anthems.
Not surprisingly, the highly paranoid Nixon Administration (working through the FBI)
eventually targeted Lennon for deportation. Determined to remain in the country he had grown to love,
John fought long and hard for permanent residency status.
On July 27, 1976 Judge Ira Fieldsteel officially handed John his "green card".
"The U.S. vs John Lennon" ~ I just saw it & loved it!
"We came here to show and to say to all of you that apathy isn't it, that we can do something!"
~ John Lennon speaking at Ann Arbor's Crisler Arena in December 1971
And even as he was being investigated, tapped, followed and threatened with
deportation for speaking out against the war in Viet Nam, John Lennon kept on talking and writing and singing about peace. Whether you're old enough to remember the late
1960s / early 1970s or not, this insightful and engaging documentary is a must-see portrait of one of this century's most influential, passionate and fascinating men in the
context of those times. You may be familiar with some of the photos, movie footage and interviews in the film - especially if you're an old timer like me :-) - but the artful way
it's all put together is brilliant and the all-Lennon soundtrack pulsing like a heartbeat throughout is irresistible. Yoko Ono's narration is thoughtful and tasteful and she also
contributed some never-before-seen photos and home movies. But the star of the show is John's own charismatic presence as musician, activist and man. And by the time
the credits rolled to the tune of "Instant Karma... and we all shine on", I couldn't help but sing along as I walked out of the theater.
See this movie and be inspired :-)
Look up The U.S. vs. John Lennon on Fandango and see if it's playing at a theater near you :-)
The U.S. vs John Lennon soundtrack on CD includes 21 of John Lennon's most revolutionary songs including two never-before-released
tracks (a live version of Attica State and an instrumental version of
How Do You Sleep) and extensive liner notes written by Yoko Ono Lennon.
"The [political] motto seems to be 'Keep the people happy with a few fags [cigarettes] and beer and they won't ask any questions.' I'm not an anarchist, but it would be good if people started realizing the difference between political propaganda and the truth." ~
told to biographer Ray Coleman in 1966
"The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility."
"Everybody's talking about peace, but nobody does anything about it in a peaceful way."
The U.S. vs John Lennon movie is the property of its creators, none of whom are me :-)
I'm just a John Lennon fan who's excited about the release of this film.
Photo of John Lennon at the Statue of Liberty copyright Bob Gruen, from his excellent book
John Lennon The New York Years.