Wienerworld Presentation
John Lennon, Rare and Unseen
2010. Features interviews that follow Lennon's public life from 1963 - 1970

By Tony Copple

Opinions by Tony Barrow, David Frost, Phil Collins, Desmond Morris, Len Goodman, Ken Dodd (among others).
Release date: 22 February 2010

This could be subtitled John Lennon, warts and all. The story of John's career with the Beatles, and his early forays into power to the people is told through a series of media interviews. Although some of the clips seem familiar, I had not seen the majority of the material presented. Through the years the events described have resolved themselves into a buzzphrase or an image; this documentary provides the background and detail that had faded from memory, and deserve preservation for the historians.

As I watched I asked myself how this alters my view of one of my heroes. Phil Collins mentions that he never met Lennon, nor particularly wanted to. Tony Barrow recalls that the young Lennon was scared; unsure of himself, and did not trust people until they proved they were friends. Yet in a few years he would marry Yoko Ono and suffer hurtful criticism of her and her motivations, and stand firm. He was by then his own man; a man on a mission, with his wife at his side. In beds, but by his side. The question is: what was the mission?

Most fans revere John Lennon for his songwriting, leadership of the Beatles, and to a lesser degree his art. This program hardly touches on these, concentrating instead on other aspects of John's public life, and his encouragement of individuals - particulaly young people - to spread their wings and make a difference. It doesn't shy away from the times when John and the other Beatles were not exactly everybody's favourite people. Nothing is sugar coated; this is an honest portrayal. Tony Barrow points out that in the early days words in John's brain didn't come out right when they reached his mouth. Hardly surprising in a young rock'n'roller who disparaged the advantages of extended education, who was suddenly being expected to have opinions on live TV shows. He admits he was terrified of such moments. The film reminds us that he predicted rock'n'roll would outlive Christianity; a rather more ridiculous statement than the Beatles' being more popular than Jesus, which was actually true in many communities. Yet the latter statement hit the headlines and has been debated ad nauseum.

Zoologist Desmond Morris was an unlikely personality to find connected with Lennon, yet in 1969 he voted for John as the man of the decade, and was rewarded with the opportunity to film an interview with the Lennons, excerpts from which are presented here. Morris had detected that Lennon's passion was motivating people to step up to the plate and make a difference in the world. The opening of All you need is love gives us a clue: "There's nothing you can do that can't be done; Nothing you can sing that can't be sung; Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game; It's easy." Later the song Power to the People put it more forcefully. John probably found this revolutionary philosophy in his own extraordinary success from humble beginnings, and for many the dream had to wait until the age of the Internet. In recent years it has been realised in spades as prosumers, ideagoras, Wikipedia, Linux, Mozilla Firefox and hundreds of other projects have surfaced fuelled by thousands of participants. The dream is far from over if you know which dream.

The DVD takes us through the very early days, including (I think) the Leslie Woodhead film from the Cavern, Beatlemania, fears of assassination following DJ Tommy Charles' influence resulting in the burning of Beatles' records in the States, the challenge to "do something for peace," the bed ins, the "War is Over if you want it" poster, Brian Epstein's death, drugs, violence doesn't work, hammering a nail, accepting MBEs, and the slow motion film of someone's face for three minutes showing the huge sequence of expressions. This last phenomenon is described in Daniel Goleman's book "Social Intelligence" and also in Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink," but it seems Lennon was there first.

In a revealing quote, John says that the Beatles had all the money they wanted, and all the fame, but it still wasn't satisfying. So they turned to LSD. Sad, but one more testimony that "money can't buy me love." In the end, only Jesus satisfies, but the Beatles seem not to have found that out (yet).

Wienerworld has carved itself a niche in the market for specialist video material that is stored in vaults but should be accessible to wide audiences. This DVD is not a ritzy production, but it is a small silver mine of information that in its more enlightened segments depicts John Lennon as a man not afraid to project ideas, some of which have only blossomed decades after his death. I recommend it to fans and followers of Lennon and sociology.

For further information please contact: Claire Thornton, Press & PR, Wienerworld, Unit 7 Freetrade House, Lowther Road, Stanmore HA7 1EP UK. Tel: 020 8206 1177. E-mail: claire(at)