The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Imagine, he’s a movie star

London, Dec. 1: The cinema has always been in love with John Lennon.

Ever since he dominated the first Beatles film, A Hard Day’s Night (1964), directors have sought to harness his cool and charisma, his enduring cultural cachet.

This month marks the 26th anniversary of his death, yet he seems more irresistible than ever to movie-makers. This year alone sees three new feature films about Lennon being made — the biggest burst of activity since Iain Hart played him in The Hours and Times (1991) and Backbeat (1994).

The first to open here will be The US vs John Lennon. A stylish American documentary, it deals with the years in the late 1960s and early 70s when he became involved with the protest movement, and battled the Nixon administration in the US.

It is constructed largely from period footage, including previously unseen material from the archives of his widow, Yoko Ono — and Lennon emerges from it as the most compelling screen presence of the year, bubbling over with quick wit and passion.

“We wanted to focus on the political John Lennon,” said director John Scheinfeld, “and to tell the truth about what happened to John and Yoko in those days.”

If Lennon’s life is providing inspiration for filmmakers, so too is his death in 1980 at the hands of Mark David Chapman.

The Killing of John Lennon, a British film directed by Andrew Piddington, premièred to glowing reviews at the Edinburgh Film Festival this year, and is slated for release next year.

Meanwhile, a Hollywood version of the story –— Chapter 27, starring Jared Leto and Lindsay Lohan — is currently in post-production.

For Piddington, Lennon’s death was significant as a personal tragedy and as an event with wider social implications. It shows the dark side of fame, a chilling testament to what can happen when celebrity culture gets out of hand. And here, perhaps, lies a key to Lennon’s abiding appeal for filmmakers.

Of course, much of it resides in his charisma and his music. But it is above all the way his story taps into broader cultural currents that makes him so fascinating.

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