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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Killing of John Lennon


Starring: Jonas Ball, Robert C. Kirk, Thomas A. McMahon, Mie Omori and Krisha Fairchild
Distributor: Fabulous Films / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £9.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 04 May 2015

On the 08 December 1980, Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon. The Killing of John Lennon (2006. 1 hr 49 min 52 sec) is a mock documentary film which deals with Chapman and his killing of Lennon.

I can understand what the makers of the film were trying to do. Using only words recorded from Chapman they have reconstructed the two weeks prior to Lennon’s death. By doing so they have created an oddly disturbing story.

Chapman comes over as a narcissist, and a dull one at that, endlessly rambling on about The Catcher in the Rye. He identified with the book's central character, Holden Caulfield, confusing his own existence with that of the character.

The film starts with Chapman (Jonas Ball) still in Honolulu, where he is living with his Japanese American wife (Mie Omori), holding down a job. His obsession with Lennon leads him to feel that Lennon was a phony. He quotes 'Imagine', which asks for a world without money or possessions, from a man who was very wealthy.

He travels to New York on a number of occasions, one where Lennon is out of town and Chapman goes to the cinema, to watch Ordinary People which was enough to sate him for that trip. Ultimately his desire for personal recognition returns and he goes back to New York. Through all of his trips he comes over as disturbed, but not mentally unwell, but certainly personality disordered and the film uses the smallest of techniques to portray what was happening in Chapman's head. This includes the voice over, using Chapman's own words.

The look of the film is grainy, as the makers were going for a mock doc look, filming sequences where they really happened, including the killing. Given that Jonas Ball is on the screen for the whole of the film, the success of the movie is pivotal on his performance. The film is not a fun watch, an hour and a half in the head of a criminal was never going to be a great selling point, but Ball pulls off a good performance. Lennon is not really in the film, even the killing is shown from Chapman's point of view when Lennon had his back to him.

The audio is a good 5.1 or a reasonable stereo track, with optional English subtitles. The only extra on the disc is the film's trailer (2 min, 05 sec).

This is an odd film. Technically it is a very well made movie, but the whole thing hinges on whether you cared that Lennon was murdered and not just killed. Semantics aside, there is a queasy feeling that you’re entertaining yourself via someone else’s senseless death.


Charles Packer

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