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The Killing of John Lennon


The Killing of John Lennon




Writer/director Andrew Piddington has made quite an achievement in carefully presenting this delicate subject. The film opens by informing us that the words spoken by Chapman are his own, and that all the settings are the actual locations. This upsetting and tragic story is not a dramatization, more of a reconstruction and at times feels like a documentary. It's a harrowing look at a crazed man who thought John Lennon was "the biggest phony of them all", singing about no possession in "Imagine" while having a vast amount of wealth. Chapman would later come to believe that he killed John Lennon to raise awareness for his favourite novel, JD Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

The idea to even make this film is questionable. One of Chapman's intentions was to be famous, so it's likely he would love the idea of himself being portrayed on the big screen. But the film is about a lot more than you might think. It says a lot about the relationship the average public can form with celebrities they've never met, about the influence fiction can have on a person, and about how easy it is to act out such a callous act of murder that can rock the entire world.

It's in knowing the inevitable outcome that make some scenes harshly unsettling. Like seeing Chapman purchase the murder weapon (you'll notice this echoes a similar scene in Taxi Driver, as does some of the narration), and afterwards making a phone call to enquire about how he can legally take it from his home of Hawaii to New York. Back then, if you wanted to take a firearm on vacation with you, all you had to do was fill out a form.

The film informed me of a few facts I was previously unaware of. While in New York, Chapman visited a movie theater to see Ordinary People. He felt so touched and moved by the film, that he actually changed his mind and decided to go back home to see his wife. He told her everything. But sixteen days later he returned to New York to fill out his original intention.

Jonas Ball's haunting performance is outstanding. He switches modes from suspiciously charming, to emotionally fragile, to genuinely terrifying, and does it naturally with such believability.

The moment in which the whole film is built around is indeed very intense. Never seeing the actor's face that plays Lennon, and just seeing photos and footage of the real Lennon throughout, works very effectively. The scenes after the murder are also quite hard-hitting. Seeing the reaction the New Yorkers had to Chapman, especially the officers at the police station, was powerful stuff. There's one moment where an officer is alone with Chapman and casually asks him, "So why'd you do it?", to which he simply replies, "I liked John Lennon."

The Killing of John Lennon is a disconcerting film that retells a horrifying incident. The film was never something I was going to enjoy, and the incident will always be something I will never understand. But I can understand why people won't want to see this film ever, which is fair enough. It was definitely worth the watch, but because of the subject matter, I won't be seeing it again for a very long time.