Before watching John Lennon: Love is All You Need, I had just finished up the PBS four-hour documentary on JFK. So there's a chance I may confuse the two Johns, being that they were both influential men in the '60s who were more acclaimed than their sexier counterparts, Ringo and Bobby, respectively.
Unlike what I've come to expect from most documentaries or State Farm commercials – Love is All You Need lacks a Morgan Freeman-esque narrator. Various interviewees instead drive the film, including Cynthia Lennon, Julian Lennon, Yoko Ono, and some guy whose name flashed too quickly across the screen that now I will just have to refer to him as Pink Polo Shirt.
(Seriously, who is this guy? Is it Peter Best? Peter would totally hijack a John Lennon documentary.)
Love is All You Need
covers the basic John Lennon shenanigans: Beatlemania, LSD,
Yoko Ono, peace protests, deportation and assassination in Dallas front of the Dakota. So even a rather casual Beatle fan like myself was not hit
with any earth-shattering details.
While this 82-minute film just skims the creamy surface of the legend that is John Lennon – its nuance lies in the rare firsthand interviews and footage of John, the Beatles, and his ex-wife, Cynthia. But unless some artsy asshole decided to film everything with a grainy filter, nearly all the interviews are thirty years old (except Pink Polo Shirt) and this loses its eventual charm like Lyndon Baines Johnson at a Kennedy backyard barbecue.
Last time I checked Cynthia, Yoko, Paul McCartney and Ringo were still kicking, so it's unclear why nothing new could be dug up. Even just a recent "Yeah, we still think John was great" clip would have sufficed.
But perhaps the most random interview came from pop culture critic, Camille Paglia. She appears mainly to express her struggle with the hostility she feels toward Yoko Ono.
"I have tried to get over it," Paglia admits. "I thought the murder of John Lennon would help. It hasn't."
Paglia continues. "[Yoko] stripped away from John Lennon his brilliant sense of British humor."
Women really do ruin all things brilliant and humorous.
"And over time he may have been a happier person with Yoko, but he was a lesser artist."
Okay, damn. We get it. Can we hear from Pink Polo Shirt again?
"It included the…heartbeat of Yoko's miscarried baby," Pink Polo Shirt says, referring to the 1969 album Life With The Lions. "This was obviously not the stuff of a pop hit."
In short, it seems that quite a lot of people liked John Lennon, John Lennon inexplicably liked Yoko Ono, and no one (NO ONE!) liked Yoko. Except maybe peace. And a broken cup.
If PBS's JFK documentary was the capstone thesis to our 35th
President, John Lennon: Love is All You Need is the
SparkNotes to our #1 Beatle – although not entirely satisfying, sometimes
necessary for old and new fans alike.