Lennon Naked

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Lennon Naked
Written by Robert Jones
Directed by Edmund Coulthard
Starring Christopher Eccleston
Theme music composer Dickon Hinchcliffe
John Lennon
The Beatles
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Production
Producer(s) Edmund Coulthard
Katherine Lannon
Cinematography Matt Gray
Editor(s) Philip Kloss
Running time 82 minutes
Production company(s) Blast! Films
Release
Original network BBC Four
Original release
  • 12 June 2010 (2010-06-12)
    (Japan)
  • 23 June 2010 (2010-06-23)
    (United Kingdom)
  • 21 November 2010 (2010-11-21)
    (United States)
  • 6 December 2010 (2010-12-06)
    (Norway)
  • 8 December 2010 (2010-12-08)
    (Italy)

Lennon Naked is a 2010 television biographical film focusing on the life of John Lennon between 1967 and 1971.[1] It stars Christopher Eccleston as John Lennon and was directed by Edmund Coulthard.

The film was first broadcast on 23 June 2010 on BBC Four,[2] and received its US premiere on PBS on 21 November 2010 as part of Masterpiece Contemporary,[3] airing the day before the American Masters documentary LennoNYC, which begins where Lennon Naked ended.[4] The film premiered in Australia on 5 December 2010.

Plot

In 1964, a reluctant John Lennon (Eccleston) is persuaded by manager Brian Epstein (Rory Kinnear) to meet his father Freddie (Christopher Fairbank), who abandoned him seventeen years earlier, with the press in attendance. When they meet, Lennon accuses his father of abandoning him, but Freddie says that he left it up to John. Lennon and Epstein quickly leave. By 1967, Epstein has died and The Beatles are giving a press conference for their new film, Magical Mystery Tour. Lennon is skeptical about the film, but Paul McCartney (Andrew Scott) convinces him to go through with the idea. Lennon invites his father to his mansion to live with him, allowing Freddie to meet his grandson, Julian.

Sitting with his wife Cynthia, Lennon reads the negative critical reception of Magical Mystery Tour, while comparing Cynthia to Brigitte Bardot, with whom he plans to meet after he returns from India. Lennon finds a letter addressed to him, with the word "Breathe" written on it—later revealed to have been written by Yoko Ono. Later, after finding his father in a neighbour's house, Freddie reveals that he has a 19-year-old girlfriend named Pauline, with whom he wants to live. Lennon accuses Freddie of leaving him again and tells his father that he won't live with him any more.

After meeting Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Beatles quickly return to London and hold a press conference to denounce the Maharishi. That night, before meeting Derek Taylor, Lennon glimpses Yoko from a window. Lennon reveals to Derek that she sends him letters. While on their way to meet Bardot, Lennon tells Derek he sometimes thinks he is Jesus Christ and, nervous about his meeting with actress, takes a tablet of LSD along with Derek. The next morning, Lennon, in the midst of a drug trip and, remembering the public's reaction at his "more popular than Jesus" statement two years before, states that he can't walk on water after all. Lennon stays with Pete Shotton in his mansion and asks him to bring Yoko.

After Lennon and Yoko record what will become the album Two Virgins, they spend the night together. Lennon tells Pete that he wants to live with Yoko. Sometime later, Lennon and Yoko hold a gallery event where Cynthia confronts him about his adulterous affair. Cynthia is willing to forgive Lennon, but he instead chooses Yoko. While Lennon is leaving, Julian is seen playing with a ball all alone, and he throws the ball at his father. Lennon, however, throws it away and doesn't pay attention to his son. Meanwhile, Derek is worried about Apple Records' financial situation and the impending release the Beatles' eponymous double album. After losing patience with Paul, Lennon and Yoko leave the meeting and go to their house, and take a picture of what will later become the cover of Two Virgins.

Yoko reveals that she's pregnant, but loses the baby in a miscarriage when the police charge her with drug possession. After Lennon proposes to Yoko, he reveals to Yoko at a press conference that his father has had another child – David. Lennon is later seen going through heroin withdrawal, and tells Pete that Yoko is pregnant again and he needs to clean up the place. Pete tells Lennon that he must do it himself, and leaves when Lennon refuses. Yoko suffers another miscarriage. In a meeting with the Beatles, John announces to his partners that he is leaving the band. McCartney convinces Lennon not to tell the press. In 1970, after McCartney himself announces he is leaving the Beatles, Lennon throws rocks at McCartney's house to the shock of the fans outside.

Lennon is later seen with a therapist, Arthur Janov, who has him remember when he was six years old and living in Blackpool with his parents. In his memories, Lennon sees his parents deciding who will keep him, and Freddie has Lennon choose for himself; Lennon chooses his father. However, after seeing his mother leave, Lennon runs after her and Freddie leaves. A traumatised John recounts how he shouted to his father to go with them, and how his mother told him that he was not going to live with her, but with her aunt. Freddie is later reunited with Lennon in the hopes of writing Lennon's biography. Lennon presents Freddie with his song "Mother", but loses patience with his father once again and leaves him. Lennon and Yoko move to New York City to live; as the final scene shows them getting on a plane and flying away, an onscreen text states that Lennon never returned.

Cast

The credited cast consists of the following:[5]

Reception

According to Sam Wollaston of The Guardian, the film's "continual looking back over the shoulder to childhood, to his mother and father, takes Lennon Naked beyond the merely biographical: it gives it a depth and a Freudian quality"; putting aside minor issues with Eccleston's accent and his age (the 46-year-old actor was playing a man who is in his 20s for most of the film), Wollaston called Eccleston's work "a brilliant performance, in a brilliant film, because what Eccleston does get spot-on is the spirit of Lennon, with all his complications, contradictions and demons."[6]

Upon its US premiere Robert Lloyd, the television critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote "it doesn't much hang together as a drama and will be of interest mainly to Beatle completists and Eccleston fans, of whom there are, after all, more than a few....none of the actors are given enough space to build a solid character, either – even the formidable Yoko comes off as a bit of a simp. Minus any demonstration of his importance, and with Eccleston playing the pained, petulant John to the near exclusion of the talented, charming one, we are left just with a portrait of a rich and prickly young man."[7]

References

  1. ^ Geoghegan, Kev (24 February 2010). "Don't Let Me Down: Rise of the Rock Biopics". BBC News. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  2. ^ Dean, Will (23 June 2010). "Six To Watch: The Beatles on TV — From the Fabulous Anthology to the Preposterous In My Life, the Fab Four Have Featured in Numerous Entertaining TV Shows". TV & Radio Blog. The Guardian. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  3. ^ Staff writer (n.d.). "Lennon Naked". Masterpiece Contemporary. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  4. ^ "LENNONYC". American Masters. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  5. ^ "Cast and Credits". Masterpiece Contemporary. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  6. ^ Wollaston, Sam (24 June 2010). "Lennon Naked". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  7. ^ Lloyd, Robert (22 November 2010). "A Night of John Lennon on PBS – The Biopic 'Lennon Naked' Hangs Its Narrative on the Beatle's Relationship with His Long-Absent Father. Much Better Is 'LENNONYC,' a Look at the Musician's Years in New York City with Yoko Ono". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 22 November 2010.

External links

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