Inside John Lennon gives us a great look at John Lennon's life and times using archival black and white footage, black and white stills of John with The Quarry Men and The Beatles, and recent interviews with his contemporaries. This well made documentary rushes through John's later years in the 1970s; but still we gain great insight into the man who was John Lennon.
The documentary begins with Lennon's childhood and uses extensive interview footage with Julia Baird, John Lennon's sister. There are great commentaries by Alistair Taylor and Alf, the chauffeur for The Beatles. We even get commentary by Allan Williams, the first manager for the band. We learn how Brian Epstein molded The Beatles into something more marketable by changing their leather rock and roll trendy outfits to more classic, "good boy" guys with their jackets and ties.
In addition, we get special recent interview footage with several members of The Quarry Men; and we gain insight as to why Pete Best left the group and why The Quarry Men became The Beatles. Awesome!
There is a good amount of time spent covering how the band became The Beatles. We learn that George came into the band through Paul McCartney; and then we learn that Ringo came into the band through George Harrison when Pete Best no longer wished to play with the group.
The footage of Hamburg during their initial success there exceeds my expectations; and the black and white stills of the guys onstage reflect good judgment. We see The Beatles truly hit the big time with their two singles on a 45 rpm record; those famous songs were "Love Me Do" with "P. S. I Love You" on the B side of the 45 rpm record.
Of course, Beatlemania is studied; and we see how the members of the band were the greatest victims of Beatlemania: John and his band mates were essentially held hostage in hotel rooms because it wasn't feasible nor was it safe for them to just walk out of their hotel to go get a pack of cigarettes. John's marriage to Cynthia Lennon suffered remarkably because of the long periods of time John spent on the road. When John met Yoko; his personal lifestyle changed greatly. John divorced Cynthia and spent much more time with Yoko while ignoring his family back in Britain; and we see the footage of the "bed-ins" and the "bag-in" as well.
By the late 1960s John and the band were more than content to do their work only in the studio; and we get insight with commentary about the breakup of The Beatles. Some people are kinder toward Yoko than others in the commentary.
Unfortunately, this retrospective ends with some newsreel footage covering the death of John Lennon. We see Julia Baird, John's sister, tell her story of how she found out about her brother's passing.
The DVD comes with two great bonus features: Alistair Taylor tells the story of how he had to buy an island near Ireland for John Lennon at an auction armed with very little money; and Alf, the chauffeur for The Beatles, tells the story of how he and John painted "the red room." Cool!
My only complaint is that the retrospective spends relatively little time on John's life in the 1970s. I wish they had added more on that; but the rest of this DVD is so good I will give this product five stars anyway.
John Lennon may have been controversial and he had his human flaws; but he made immeasurable contributions to the arts. He also meant well with his politics especially during the 1970s. I doubt we'll ever see another quite like John Lennon; and we are fortunate that John's legacy lives on through his CDs and documentaries like this one.