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The Killing of John Lennon - V.A. MacIan Score - BFFS Scotland

11th Aug. 2006, V.A. MacIan Score - BFFS Scotland

BFFS Scotland

Cinema for All

Killing of John Lennon, The

Andrew Piddington, UK, 2006, 112 mins

Andrew Piddington has achieved what few other filmmakers have even attempted; he has made arguably one of the most infamous and hated figures in popular culture, human. Jonas Ball, who is perfectly cast as Mark David Chapman, narrates the entire film using Chapman’s own words, gained from journals and testimony, leaving the viewer feeling as if he or she were in fact a confidant of Chapman and witness to the unfolding events.

Struggling with insecurity and insatiability and devoid of a sense of purpose in life, Chapman found what he was searching for in the words of JD Salinger’s A Catcher In The Rye. He identified with the story’s protagonist, Holden Caulfield and unfortunate happenstance lead him to see John Lennon as his nemesis. Chapman, who admitted to being a fan of John Lennon and of the Beatles, was incensed by what he saw as the “phony” lifestyle lead by Lennon. In particular, he obsessed that Lennon sang, “Imagine no possessions…” yet owned multiple homes and lived a life of glamour and luxury. Ultimately, he stalked Lennon and in an act he saw as retribution, he murdered him in the entryway of the Dakota Building in New York City in December 1980.

Avoiding the clichéd description and dismissal of other high profile murderers, who invariably are classified as being either a “victim of society” or simply evil, Piddington and Ball give breath and breadth to a real man. Chapman’s crime renders him a character with whom humanity is unable to sympathize. But watching this man, haunted by mental illness, unable to maintain healthy relationships with his dysfunctional parents, and aware of his growing instability, compels the viewer to take a peek at the man behind the monstrous crime.

While The Killing of John Lennon is a truly profound look at the thin line between sociopathy and obsessed fan, this film is also a wonderful look at what dedicated film makers can achieve. Obviously recreating 1980’s New York City on a limited budget isn’t practical, but the occasional shot of a modern NY didn’t detract from the experience in the slightest. I especially appreciated the irony of the scene in which Chapman (having just murdered Lennon) is being questioned by the police, while Silent Night, Holly Night plays over the 20th precinct’s intercom system. This work is eminently watchable, beautifully crafted, and considering that the work was shot on a small budget, something that any aspiring be film maker should watch.

Added: Friday, August 11, 2006

Reviewer: V.A. MacIan



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