John Lennon: In My Life Cover Did you know that John Lennon devised the name, ‘The Beatles’, because of a dream he had one night? True. However, could you imagine what else he might have come up with, if he did not eat cheese that particular evening? ‘The Aubergines’ – ‘The Macaronis’ – ‘The Banana Splits’ – or maybe something presented within this 60 minute documentary produced in 2004.

In My Life

This feature length presentation repackages a number of television clips and freshly recorded interviews, to highlight the life and death of musician extraordinaire, John Lennon.

Now to help enhance the overall design of this feature, an additional amount of care and attention to detail is brought to the fore, which helps focus John’s life in a more lavish way. Here, this is a brief run down of what it on show...

THE DEATH: John Lennon was shot dead one night whilst coming home from a recording season with his wife, Yoko Ono. His death shocked the nation, and with it came a number of questions that needed to be answered due to the baying of John’s adoring fans. Why was John shot? Who shot him? And what next? Gradually, over time, all of these questions were answered, one, by one, by one. But not all of them to a satisfactory level.

THE MURDERER: In the mid-nineteen-eighties, John Lennon’s murderer, Mark David Chapman, gave a detailed interview to explain about the day that he shot this one time Beatle. His interview is frank and placid, although his previous actions were not. 

THE INTERVIEWS: Close friends, work colleagues, and other associates of Johns, elaborate about numerous episodes of John’s life and death. The FBI affair – John’s political affiliations – his usage of narcotics – how Yoko coped with Johns demise – as well as what they thought of John, both as a man and as a musician. In addition to all of this, a Beatles inspired pop-group, ‘the Overtones’, pays homage to John by recording a Beatles related song in Abbey Road Studios. 

THE STOCK FOOTAGE: Quite a few pieces of stock footage have been compiled and spliced together to elaborate upon John’s life. Such as: (1) The Beatles receiving the OBE and John returning it a few years later. (2) The death of Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, and what he meant to the band. (3) When the Beatles went to Rishikesh to study under guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. (4) Johns own opinion on writing songs, as well as his thoughts on peace. (5) John and Yoko’s ‘Bed in’. (6) The Beatles attending a number of society functions in London, Australia, and in New York. (6) On the spot footage of celebrities going to see the Beatles in Shay Stadium – most notably, Groucho Marx, Rock Hudson, Edward G Robinson, and Jack Benny. And (7) The Beatles messing about in front of the cameras.

THE REVIEW:Now the song, ‘In my Life’, is a really well crafted piece of music. It is melodic in composition, it has a tone that is very reflective and melancholy, and on top of that, the overall ambiance of this tune is a real masterpiece for it’s time. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing about this documentary ‘John Lennon: In My Life’, as if anything, it is a real hodgepodge piece of film-making. 

John Lennon Peace

You see, the first thing that hits you right across the face when you watch this documentary, is that their is no ‘official’ Beatles music playing upon it – denoting that this is not a ‘official’ Beatles product. After that, you cannot help but notice that there is no voice over-narration to complement what you see on screen either – just a couple of sporadic captions signifying different aspects of this show. Next, the structure of this program is rather rambling in nature – as it starts off with Johns death, then a segment about Mark Chapman, and after that their is a plethora of clips and interviews, all displayed in a somewhat quirky order. And finally, some of what is on display is of low-quality, repetitive of previous Beatles documentaries, or manipulated by a rather strange spit-screen technique that is very irritating to watch.

John Lennon with Flower

However, to juxtapose this negative stance, there is quite a bit about ‘John Lennon: In My Life’ that I did really like. Firstly, the two sections with Mark Chapman and his wife was quite interesting in a morbid sort of a way – as it presented something that I have not seen in a ‘Beatles’ documentary before, a first hand account on the lead up to Johns death and some new material. Funny enough, I can say the same thing about some of the interviews too – because all of them gave a new and fresh take on what John was like, and what happened after his tragic death. Moreover, some of the clips were new to me also – which is saying something considering how many Beatles documentary’s I have watched in the past.

Nevertheless, whilst taking all of this into consideration, this is still a fairly standard documentary in the scheme of things. The good parts are good – the bad parts are yawn-some – the structure is strange – and the overall presentation is much to be desired. Still, if you are a fan of John or the Beatles, this is still a program to keep an eye out for, because in my opinion it does have quite a few redeeming qualities to it. Unlike this clip...

So-so documentary – for die-hard fans only.