Available from Amazon, WBbshop, BBCAmericashop
Director Edmund Coulthard and writer Robert Jones teamed up to tackle this entertaining yet sensational account of John Lennon's life, Lennon Naked, which aired on the BBC and in Japan before making its way to America. This fictionalized biography takes up subject matter surrounding Lennon's thorny relationship with his alcoholic father, Freddie Lennon (Christopher Fairbank), and attempts to psychoanalyze Lennon's life decisions, up to his leaving the Beatles and teaming up with Yoko Ono (Naoko Mori), based on his childhood dramas. The feature is all about Christopher Eccleston taking on the incredible difficulty of acting the part of such a recognizable icon. He does this in stride, exuding a confidence, indeed a stubbornness that this film's John Lennon succeeds and suffers with. In any biographical story, it's a danger to assume that the viewer comes away knowing a celebrity any better than before, and Lennon Naked offers such a presumably intimate take on Lennon's personal life that it frequently oversteps the bounds of respectability. For example, after Lennon, in the film, dabbles with drugs and glimpses Yoko, it ties his abandonment of his steadfast but dull, suburban wife, Cynthia Lennon (Claudie Blakley), to his abandonment by his father. Every time, in the film, Lennon leaves someone or is left, flashbacks to his childhood in which his dad bids him adieu on some British pier with balloons wafting into the sky heavy-handedly drive the connection points home. If one can ignore sentimentality like this, one can enjoy the uncanny capabilities of the actors playing the other Beatles, Paul McCartney (Andrew Scott), Ringo Starr (Craig Cheetham), and George Harrison (Jack Morgan), and early on, Brian Epstein (Rory Kinnear), during press meetings or warding off girls in the grips of Beatlemania. Sequenced chronologically, Lennon Naked begins right before Epstein's death and takes one through Lennon's leaving London for New York. As years flash by, actual vintage footage of the Beatles and of Lennon commingle with the fictional biopic, adding greatly to its credibility. However, be warned: Lennon Naked is sheer entertainment, not documentary. It's odd to think of an actual person's life providing fodder for fictional narrative, but when it's done well, it can make for some satisfactory viewing to quench die-hard fans who miss this beloved and very talented man who lived in the public eye. --Trinie Dalton
UPDATE: According to 2 | entertain, the release is pushed to July 5th (instead of June 14th) -- Has been released June 28th.
Available from BBC Shop, Amazon and HMV
Region 2, 82 min
2 | entertain: "Thirty years after the death of John Lennon, Lennon Naked tells of the turbulent lifestyle of one of the twentieth centuries biggest icons. Christopher Eccleston stars as the enigmatic musician in a defining period of his life – a time of disillusion, self destruction, transformation, and ultimately, hope. John Lennon is one of the most enduring figures in musical and cultural history. One quarter of 'The Fab Four', peace activist, visual artist and author, he was a man whose personal life was characterised by drama, intrigue and eventually, conspiracy. This unique film is available on DVD 5th July, priced £15.99.
A biopic with a stellar lead cast, Lennon Naked charts Lennon’s transition from 'Beatle John' to an enduring and enigmatic icon. It covers a period of wildly fluctuating fortunes from 1967 to 1971, from the death of father-figure and manager Brian Epstein through to the break-up of the Beatles to John's decision to leave England for New York; a time of worldwide adulation at one extreme, a combination of frustration and despair at the other. It's the story of an artist destroying everything to find himself – through drugs, break-ups and therapy – as he attempts to free himself from the shackles of material wealth and celebrity and discover himself as a solo recording artist.
It was a turning point in his life and the events that followed led John to shed everything he knew about himself. Yoko Ono was his muse and the catalyst for change – meeting her altered everything, and led to the acrimonious break up of his marriage to first wife Cynthia and his decision to start a new life. Lennon's growing disillusionment with life in Britain caused him to abandon his home country and start a new life in America. He was never to return..."
BBC Shop: "Starring Christopher Eccleston - Seven turbulent years in the life of an icon
John Lennon is one of the most enduring figures in musical and cultural history. One quarter of The Beatles, peace activist, visual artist and author, he was a man whose personal life was never short on drama, intrigue and eventually, conspiracy. Thirty years after his death, Christopher Eccleston stars as the enigmatic musician in a defining period of his life, as he moved from Beatle John to an icon. It covers a period of wildly fluctuating fortunes from 1964 to 1971, a time of worldwide adulation at one extreme, a combination of frustration and despair at the other. From the death of father-figure and manager Brian Epstein, his break-up with first wife Cynthia, his fascinating love affair with Yoko Ono through to his spiralling drug use and decision to leave England for New York, this is the story of one of the 20th century’s most influential artists destroying everything to find himself…"
The old description from BBC Shop: "This TV movie focuses on the key years 1967 – 1971 with John Lennon's break from the Beatles, his troubled relationship with his father, his all consuming romance with Yoko Ono, and his eventual move to America.
In this exciting and powerful film, Christopher Eccleston's portrayal of Lennon, so spookily inhabiting the great man, will give audiences a huge nostalgia trip, whilst telling a story which until now hasn't been shown on screen. In Supporting roles are Naoko Mori (Torchwood), Chris Fairbank (Only Fools and Horses), Rory Kinnear (Margaret/Finchley, First Men in the Moon), Claudie Blakley (Larkrise, Cranford) and Andrew Scott (John Adams).
The film is directed by BAFTA award winning director/producer Edmund Coulthard who recently received multiple awards (Cannes, Sydney, Bafta, IFTA) as producer of Hunger, a film about the hunger-striker Bobby Sands and a BAFTA as director of Soundproof and written by Robert Jones, known for Party Animals and No1 Ladies Detective."