This three-hour made-for-TV movie is as disturbing as it is fascinating. On the one hand, it really tries very sincerely and compassionately to depict the 14-year relationship between John Lennon of The Beatles and conceptual artist Yoko Ono.
On the other hand, the film omits so much of the plot and leaves so many things that are seen on the screen unexplained, that one has to be a Beatles aficionado to figure out what in the world is going on.
Admittedly the movie only tries to concentrate on the one-to-one relationship between John and Yoko, but to treat Paul, George and Ringo as extras mars the project for the viewer. Since this was the first serious attempt to tell even a segment of the Beatles‘ incredible story, not having developed the other three members of the group beyond peripheral roles was a mistake.
In every scene featuring The Beatles, one had to memorise the actors’ wigs to figure out who was supposed to be whom!
Conversely, the actors who portrayed John and Yoko (Mark McGann and Kim Miyori) looked hauntingly identical to the stars they portrayed.
The real Yoko Ono had a strong personal interest and involvement in the project and since several books had painted her unfavourably – and she had so often been wrongly accused of breaking up The Beatles – she wanted to ensure she didn’t come across poorly in this film.
Yoko hated the first draft of the film which dwelled heavily on John’s drug use. The script was scrapped and Sandor Stern was brought in to write and direct a story that focussed on the two lovers and barely touched upon the drug use.
Although the film was shot in England with a predominantly British cast, the role of Yoko went to American actress Kim Miyori (best known as Dr Wendy Armstrong on the US series St Elsewhere). An actor named Mark Lindsay was cast as Lennon because of his uncanny resemblance to the singer, but two days before principal photography was to begin, it was discovered that “Lindsay” was a stage name and his real name was Mark Chapman – the exact name of John Lennon’s murderer!
The actor was paid in full without shooting a single frame of film and the lead role recast with Scully star Mark McGann stepping in.
The film begins with John Lennon‘s 1966 comments likening the popularity of The Beatles with that of Jesus Christ and ends with a freeze-frame of John’s encounter on 8 December 1980 with his assassin.
Watch out for an uncredited bit part appearance by future Austin Powers star, Mike Myers.
Julian Lennon (Age 5)
Joe Randall Cutler
Julian Lennon (Age 11)
Julian Lennon (Age 15)
Kyoko Ono Cox (Age 5)
Kyoko Ono Cox (Age 8)
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Detective Sergeant Pilcher