Give Peace a Song

Starring: John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Fabulous Films
RRP: 14.99
Certificate: E
Available 27 August 2007

On 26 May 1969, John Lennon & Yoko Ono moved into the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal for the historic seven-day bed-in protest against violence in the world. On 01 June, the last day of the bed-in, John posted lyrics on the hotel room walls for a spontaneous group recording. This DVD captures the actual live recording of 'Give Peace A Chance' as it was recorded at the sit-in...

The 1960s were coming to an end and unbeknown to the public, The Beatles were a spent force, driven apart by both internal and external pressures. No announcement had been made, but John Lennon had handed in his notice, sick of being a Beatles and the restrictions this imposed upon him. One of his first solo actions was to take to a bed in Toronto to promote peace.

The event, which was extensively filmed, captured the media's attention around the globe, and ended with an impromptu recording of a song - 'Give Peace a Chance', the last great anthem of the decade.

Looking at the footage now Lennon comes across as considered, articulate and informed. In fact, this documentary clearly gives a lie to the hysterical media reaction at the time that highlighted his 'crazy antics'. Lennon takes such care with explaining his commitment to promote world peace that his words often seem totally in opposition to the popular image of him as a shallow bandwagon jumper - a voice for hire for radical causes.

Sadly, the song's horrible - little more than a football chant, but it crystallised an international mood for an alternative to direct confrontation, epitomised by Vietnam.

The second half of the documentary covers some totally unnecessary re-recordings of the song, but the extras (more interview footage) more than make up for this.

In the end, the thing that really stands out is how reasonable Lennon's 'demands' were. He wasn't calling for anything dramatic - just that people give a chance for peace to work. Yes, it's nave, but you'd be hard pressed to argue with the sentiments.

Give Peace a Song fails to rehabilitate 'Give Peace a Chance' but it provides a valuable insight into the thinking of John Lennon and in the process rewrites a little bit of post-Beatles history.

Anthony Clark

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