Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 9th, 2010
In December of 1980, John Lennon was gunned down by a crazy man who was trying to get the attention of yet another celebrity. In 2010, the BBC assassinated the man’s character in this dreadful television film called Lennon Naked. I had such high hopes for the film. I rather like star Christopher Eccleston. I enjoyed his take on The Doctor from Doctor Who. He was also quite good in the zombie thriller 28 Days Later with a run as a man who can become invisible on Heroes. What made such a fine actor stoop so low as to take a gig like this is beyond my understanding. If it was the temptation to maybe play an idol from his childhood, I would have hoped he would have stopped short once he’d read the script. As the aforementioned warning tells us, this film is actually a hodgepodge of speculation that doesn’t fail to kick the singer at every point.
I’m not a huge John Lennon fan. In fact, I only have mild feelings about The Beatles in general. I respect what they have done but have leaned more toward Paul and George in their years after the super-band. I have no illusions that Lennon was anything but a spoiled brat, particularly at the height of his career. His famous, “We’re bigger than Jesus Christ” statement said a lot about his immaturity at the time. It should be expected. The “lads” were mere teens when their music caught fire. Before they had a chance to start shaving, women were throwing themselves practically faint at the band, and money was coming in as if it were the most common thing in the world. It’s really no wonder that the band members had a feeling of entitlement and were a bit rough around the edges. There is certainly a bit of fairness to some of this portrayal.
But it’s very one-sided. If this film is to be believed, there wasn’t a redeeming bone in Lennon’s body. The film is more or less a psychological profile that almost seems other-worldly at times. It’s very much like the author was on his own acid trip and reported this fictional account through his own drug-induced haze. Eccleston puts on an accurate performance as far as a character goes, but this Lennon is always moody and living outside of his head. There’s no way this character would have had the energy or self-confidence to take the stage and belt out the kinds of performances that he did. As characters, the other Beatles are mere cameo moments for the actors portraying them. They are never fleshed out as characters. It’s really a sad film that I’m sure Lennon’s family could not be too happy about.
Lennon Naked is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The image shifts from black & white to color, but it never really settles into a solid picture quality. It’s almost like the filmmakers want you to be on edge. The camera angles are often taken in odd places. The image appears intentionally made to look older. It has the feel of a documentary. Colors, when they are in color, are always drab and dull. Black levels might as well not even be there at all. The BBC usually has quite stunning image quality. That’s not the case here.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is as bad as the image. If you’re hoping to hear some Lennon music here, you will be greatly disappointed, I’m afraid. There are just a few clips, and they appear intentionally muffled. This is strictly some of the dullest dialog you’re going to ever hear. Quite a sub-par performance from the BBC.
Thankfully there is nothing more here.
If you are a Lennon fan, you are going to be tempted to check this one out. I can’t blame you for feeling that way at all. However, I really don’t think you’re going to be pleased. Your idol is pretty much trashed throughout. This is not the guy you’re thinking of when you listen to his records. Even if some of it is true, there are certainly plenty of wonderful contributions the man had made in his career. You’re not going to want to see Lennon this way. It’ a one-sided character assassination. “It felt like a dream.”