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The Killing of John Lennon (2006)

1 rating: 3.0
Drama and Music Video & Concerts movie

Mark David Chapman, a 25 year old security guard in Hawaii, bought a plane ticket to New York with the intention of killing the world's greatest musician and dreamer: The Beatles' John Lennon. Camping outside Lennon's apartment in New York waiting for … see full wiki

Genre: Music, Drama, Musical
1 review about The Killing of John Lennon (2006)

Making Sense of the Senseless

  • Aug 6, 2008
I went into `The Killing of John Lennon' wanting to be illuminated. A reenactment rather than a documentary, I was surprised by how much I remembered about Lennon's assassin, Mark David Chapman. Looking and feeling like many fictionalized Hollywood films, this lurid account provides a great deal of authenticity. After watching this film, I felt like I had walked in Chapman's shoes, or at least followed his footsteps, and I'm at a loss to state whether I'm better off for having taken that walk.

For stylistic techniques, the movie is edited with fastidious finesse. We get near breaking edge fast-forward, slow motion, and artistic ensemble framing. Writer/director Andrew Peddington spent a great deal of time and care on this film, and editor Tony Palmer should get some semi-prestigious prize for his outstanding work. From the beginning, we get the horrible tragedy and then back up again. They retrace Chapman's life before he made his fateful decision. Interspersed, we see the shooting again, and then again, as the movie marches forward to its inevitable conclusion. Many times they show a collage of split-second John Lennon pictures frantically flipped across the screen. I was wondering: Are they going for suspense or for appreciation? Wisely, for part of the last thirty-five minutes or so, they give us plenty of old news reels to help us grieve once more. It may actually be both, but I'd be hard pressed to say the filmmakers didn't care about Lennon or his legacy. It's dramatic because it's momentus. But then they do end mostly with Chapman.

Jonas Ball plays Chapman, and he becomes as fragile and as insecure as we might expect him to be. As he narrates, we get a chilling reading of Chapman's thoughts. I obtained most of these accounts from newspapers, magazines, and TV news magazine shows before. For me, he's the best reason to see (really hear) this reenactment. At certain points, the movie's mood even captures the banality of Chapman's life. We get an insightful portrait of a truly conflicted man. In a mental institution in 1977, unstable for his personal life or employment, and delusional and impulsive at best, we discover a misanthrope who eventually confessed, "I was mr. nobody until I killed the Biggest Somebody on earth." From self-aggrandizement to regret, the dichotomies of this anguished man are sadly pathetic, but clearly presented.

Personal Reflections: I'm being self-indulgent, but you may agree with me. As a freshman in college, John Lennon's murder hit me like a ton of bricks. I was facing my first college exams and concentration was difficult at best. I saw `Ordinary People' on Christmas Day, the biggest tear-jerker in my life. It is no surprise that initially Chapman turned around and headed back to Hawaii after seeing this film. The power of my favorite movie doesn't surprise me, but I wish it had sustained him. Grief took me measurably in December of 1980. Where were you when John Lennon got shot?

Electrified by `The Catcher in the Rye,' Chapman used the twisted justifying context of Holden Caulfield to conclude, "The phony must die." All this because of the brilliant man who wrote and sang about "no possessions" had plenty himself. Besides some real estate, to paraphrase Roy Carr, he gave his money away almost "recklessly". We need idealists to set the high bar in life. Did Shakespeare live a life up to his sage writings? Does anybody? Even phonies don't deserve the death penalty. Lennon, so known for his gut-felt honesty and confessional songs "Help!," "Love," "I'm a Loser," and "Jealous Guy" was gunned down. I may be beating my head against a wall grappling with Chapman's rationale, but they only demonstrate how we're still processing the repercussions of his assassination even today. It's like trying to make sense of senselessness. At least the movie makes an admirable attempt.

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