The Killing Of John Lennon

The Killing Of John Lennon


Reviewed by: Chris

The Killing Of John Lennon is a reasonably polished film considering the minuscule budget it was made on. Plenty of slow motion dreamy shots, blasts of zappy editing and generally arty photography that would seem ideal to enjoy with a joint or relaxing low attention span. The words of killer Mark David Chapman are all from his notes and recordings - which adds authenticity, although he doesn't seem a very bright spark and is fairly predictable. We gather he is vaguely angry about Lennon's wealth and possessions in view of the song with lyrics that include 'Imagine no possessions' and, hyped up on 'Catcher in the Rye', he decides that it is his destiny to kill the hypocritical ex-Beatle.

Executive producer Rod Pearson says the film "explores the razor-thin lines between art and insanity, between the drive to create and the compulsion to destroy" - which it does, though almost solely from inside the head of Mark David Chapman. Our murderous Mark faffs about for three months before finally getting it together to do his deadly deed, and then we follow him through psychiatric interviews and prison. Before that, UK viewers may raise an eyebrow (perhaps intended?) at the ease with which Chapman buys a gun, frown at his rage against homosexuals (he fantasises about blowing away two noisily copulating guys in the next room), or be tickled by the prostitute he hires the night before the murder. This last scene provides one of the film's best lines - "Inhibitions are so nice, cos they're so nice to overcome."

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After talking himself out of the first attempt, Chapman overcomes any inhibitions and deserts his wife for a second time to play out his own piece of history. He carefully arranges all the things that sum up his life on a table in his hotel room - so the police will know everything about him. There's not much to know. His obsession includes little touches that may have some deep significance for his insane world view - against the name 'John' in the New Testament, he adds 'Lennon' and leaves it open at that page - presumably so the police will understand him.

The Killing of John Lennon is pleasant enough to watch but doesn't seem to add anything new of significance. Some expert analysis of his state of mind, for instance, rather than simply the rote questions of the examining psychiatrist, might have provided us with an extra dimension to help understand him. And, even with the nice visual photography, it is rather too long a film as much of the material is revisited time and time again without developing the story. The killing of John Lennon also arouses such interest by filmmakers that I felt slightly uneasy about this voyeuristic approach to the life of his murderer - like many thousands of fans, I would rather watch a tribute to the musician himself than dwell too long on the killer who probably sought (or still seeks) fame in movies of this variety.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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An exploration of the experiences of Mark Chapman before and after he killed John Lennon.
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Director: Andrew Piddington

Writer: Andrew Piddington

Starring: Jonas Ball

Year: 2006

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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