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The U.S. vs. John Lennon - DVD Review

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</script></div>{/googleAds}In an early '70s United States there was a controversial war being waged by our Nation's government. While the Viet Nam conflict was grabbing all the headlines, the Nixon administration was preoccupied with a paranoiac battle against the dissenting views of anti-war protestors and peace activists led by the loveable "Moptop" turned enemy no. 1 John Lennon.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon primarily covers the fractious period from 1966-76 when J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hounded the "intellectual Beatle" and amassed a fairly extensive bureau file on the singer's movements, actions and cohorts. The government hoped to counter Lennon's outspoken opposition to the war in Viet Nam by utilizing fear and intimidation tactics. They tapped his phones, staked-out his home, followed his car, and ultimately tried to have Lennon deported from the States for an old marijuana charge. Their attempts failed.

By securing the cooperation of Yoko Ono, filmmakers David Leaf and John Scheinfeld were able to gain unprecedented access to never-before-seen footage, family photos and Ono's personal recollections, which automatically make the film a delicious treat for Beatles aficionados and Lennon fans. But wider appeal comes from the film's attention to acute detail and its rich atmosphere steeped in the social climate the U.S. was experiencing at the time. We're given a vivid idea of what the counter-culture was like and how the social environment was a virtual powder keg by the time Lennon first stepped in with his aggressive posture.

While The U.S. vs. John Lennon was not necessarily made with the singular purpose of becoming a revolutionary starter kit for a new generation of protestors, the timing of its release must be brought into question. Today's burgeoning unrest and the President's sagging approval ratings are echoed in many of the film's passages, including a deliberately cold-blooded closing shot taken by historian/novelist Gore Vidal. Leaf and Scheinfeld admit to their apprehension and reluctance to release the film in the wake of the Iraq war and the uproar created after entertainment figures such as the Dixie Chicks and Bill Maher spoke about their opposition to the war. But they strongly believe the film's message is relevant to dialogue taking place in America today.

Putting matters into historical perspective throughout the film via interviews are such journalistic luminaries as Walter Cronkite, Carl Bernstein, and Geraldo Rivera. Providing captivating recollections are fellow Lennon rabble-rousers Angela Davis, Bobby Seale and Ron Kovic whose opinions were once considered nothing more than self-aggrandizing rhetoric. But some of the film's most damning confirmations come from two of the actual FBI operatives who admit that in the grand scheme of historical perspective, their surveillance operations were not only meaningless and futile but probably unethical and illegal. An interesting but not surprising admission comes from former Nixon administration official G. Gordon Liddy who continues to stand behind the government's nefarious activities with regards to John Lennon.

Coursing through the proceedings and providing a powerful bridge between screen and audience are more than 40 Lennon tunes (thanks to Ono's cooperation). Appropriately, most are from his post-Beatles days and provide an almost literal commentary to the film's narrative. As we watch home video footage of Lennon bouncing his son Sean on his knee, we're treated to Beautiful Boy. As expected, Imagine and Peace are featured and stand out as the film's cultural anthems. We've heard these songs so many times they've almost been relegated to nothing more than elevator Musak, but in their new context, they resonate more than ever before.

As might be expected, Ono's participation in the film comes with a few drawbacks. Lennon is painted in an extremely sympathetic light, almost to the point of being portrayed as some kind of revolutionary Saint. We hear nothing of Lennon's brief 18-month break-up with Ono, whom many blamed for the disbanding of The Beatles, and there's virtually no mention of Ringo, Paul and George. But all in all, The U.S. vs. John Lennon is a fair and balanced, but most importantly, captivating exploration of John Lennon the activist and bane of a presidency. As the credits roll, we're left with a similar question raised by Good Night and Good Luck How could this have happened?


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Language and Sound: nglish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; making-of featurettes; deleted scenes.

* Deleted Scenes - (10 clips totalling 54:07)
o "Becoming John Lennon"
o "Power to the People"
o "Dissent vs. Disloyalty"
o "Then & Now"
o "Walter Cronkite Meets the Beatles"
o The "Two Virgins" Album Cover"
o "Sometime in New York"
o "Imagine"
o "The One to One Benefit Concert"
o "Yoko Ono Lennon's Letter to the Parole Board".
* Trailer- The film's original theatrical trailer
* DVD-Rom Features - a text Interview with John and Yoko.

Number of discs: - 1- Keepcase Packaging


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