LENNON NAKED STARRING CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON
- REVIEW AND COMMENTARY
John Lennon Examiner
June 24, 10:24 PMJune 24, 2010 -Lennon Naked
starring Christopher Eccleston
as John Lennon, was shown in the U.K last night on BBC4 as a TV special. It comes on the heels of another Lennon docu-drama, Sam Taylor-Wood's film called Nowhere Boy.
It couldn’t have been timed better, as Lennon Naked
picks up just about where Nowhere Boy
, (which just made the rounds at the International Film Festivals in the U.S.), leaves off. Lennon Naked
begins at the very peak of Beatlemania in 1964. It begins with Lennon teasing manager Brian Epstein
over his homosexuality, revealing the acid wit that Lennon was reputed to have, as Brian
patiently tolerates the ribbing. He is being taken to a hotel room to meet his long lost father, Freddie Lennon
, (Christopher Fairbank) whom he has not seen since that awful day in Blackpool when he was just five years old.
John Lennon meets his father Freddie Lennon, again.
Songs played are "Mother" and "God." (7:01 minutes)www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq-v3UipUC0S
It’s interesting that while Nowhere Boy
focuses on the renewed connection with his mother Julia, until her tragic death in 1958, Lennon Naked
deals with his reunion with his father. In my opinion, these two elements of John’s life, the reunions with both biological parents, are important keys to his soul; if we can understand the pain he suffered a little more deeply, experience those events a little, through his eyes, we can understand the heart of John Lennon just a little more. Lennon Naked
certainly delivers on that front, and a box of kleenex is recommended.
Interspersed with actual film footage of the Beatles at that time, which is a brilliant effect adding realism to the movie, we are fast-forwarded through the Beatles’ musical and spiritual changes via press conferences—the Magical Mystery Tour
movie which flopped in the U.K., the ill-fated trip to India to stay with the Maharishi, the White Album, with Derek Taylor thinking the fans are going to see that it’s not really a “Beatles” album because there’s no cohesiveness, the beginning of Apple, until finally John meets Yoko Ono
Actress Naoko Mori portrays Yoko Ono
He receives a mysterious note from Yoko that says Breathe
and he is entranced. Then he sees her through the Indica Gallery window, and is transfixed. At that point everything slows down, and now every torturous and joyous moment that
John went through after that is experienced almost in real time.
Screenjabber's Stuart O'Connor chats with Lennon Naked
star Naoko Mori - about Absolutley Fabulous
and playing Yoko Ono in Lennon Naked
film. Part 1 of 2. (9:20 minutes)www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCdYXiCm9Qw
Screenjabber's Stuart O'Connor continues his chat with Lennon Naked
star Naoko Mori
about The Beatles, and the terror of getting naked for art. Part 2 of 2. (10:11 minutes)www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWb1UKIUu2k
Throughout the movie there are points of ominous, blurry flashbacks--like grainy dreams, of John at age 5 as his father is walking away from him in Blackpool. As in Nowhere Boy
, these flashbacks bring painful confusion to John’s face.
Eccleston and Mori are both brilliant as Lennon and Yoko and quite believable, however Eccleston is not as handsome as the real John, and quite a bit older, while Naoko Mori is more feminine and prettier than her subject. They both espouse their characters so well, however, that these issues don't matter. They capture the spirits of John and Yoko very well. The other Beatles actors as well as Cynthia Lennon are also impressive and quite clever.
John Lennon walking down the street to learn
more information about Yoko Ono. (1:10 minutes)www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1MblXBsYtA
The events as they transpire in the movie present a view of Lennon that most people will not recognize. These are Lennon’s darkest moments, brought to life on film in an emotional way that is tough to watch. This is a side of John that is deeply disturbing, either due to his drug use, which was quite heavy at that time, his efforts at healing his emotions through Primal Scream Therapy, or tragic events like Brian Epstein's death
, his divorce, Yoko’s miscarriages and the Beatles break-up--announced by Paul instead of him.
All in all, the viewer must be prepared for the hidden side of John that was struggling with addiction, looking for freedom from the Beatles and his marriage, and trying to comprehend his insecurities and deeply rooted issues of abandonment by both his father and mother. For example, Patricia Rees, Lennon fan from the U.K, wrote to say this: “The BBC showed Lennon Naked
last night... I really didn't like it. It was the same thing as quoting something completely out of context, with little bits of John stuck together to fit - goodness knows what, the film title? They stripped away so much he was not recognisable.”
This is a John Lennon who is screaming "What about me?" throughout the film, either by his actions or words. Most painfully, we see history tragically repeating itself as Julian becomes the newest victim of paternal Lennon abandonment when John divorces Cynthia. John throughout the movie is tough, unkind, seemingly uncaring and cold, and through it all, extremely quick-witted, rendering most of his victims speechless--except to Yoko, to whom he is extremely nurturing.
The famous Two Virgins
shots of John and Yoko are re-enacted in their entirety, in the buff, without so much as a blur (or even brown paper bag) over the private parts. The message here is, this is just as Lennon would have had it—real and human. Take it or leave it. (Everybody’s got one.)Lennon Naked
lives up to it’s name. This is the deepest pain of Lennon’s psyche. 1968 – 1970 were incredibly dark, emotional times for John, thrown against the backdrop of his brightest joy—falling in love with Yoko Ono. www.examiner.com/examiner/x-35173-John-Lennon-Examiner~y2010m6d24-Lennon-Naked-starring-Christopher-Eccleston--review-and-commentary