LOS ANGELES—The public and private life of John Lennon, the musician, the artist, and the anti-war activist are explored in the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon.
Following a brief introduction to John Lennon's childhood, this documentary focuses on the years between 1966 and 1976, a time in American history dominated by the Vietnam War, and when John Lennon launched his worldwide campaign for peace and unity among people.
Writers/Producers/Directors, David Leaf and John Scheinfeld, both baby boomers, grew up loving the Beatles. "Since John Lennon was one of their heroes," explains David, "they were thrilled to make a movie about this fascinating aspect of John Lennon's life and career that very few people know about and felt that this story was one that people needed to hear."
What impressed David Leaf the most was "the kind of courage it took for Lennon to fearlessly speak truth to power." John Sheinfeld relates that "much has been written and said that's a lot mythology and I think we sort of helped to zero in on the truth a little bit."
Yoko Ono stated, "Of all the documentaries that have been made about John, this is the one he would have loved" for the reason that, explains Leaf, "it speaks the truth."
For Leaf, the underlying message John Lennon was communicating, "was that it was up to each of us as individuals to make a difference in the world, and while he was perfectly willing and courageous in using his celebrity to try to change the world, he [John Lennon] really believed it was time for people to stop looking at heroes to get all the hard work done. When he and Yoko said 'War is Over If You Want It', they literally meant it. When he said 'Imagine', when he wrote that song, he believed that. He was a great dreamer, and a great artist."
"This documentary is different from everything else we have done" explains Sheinfeld, in that "there is a political, and cultural social resonance to this story that transcends the time in which the events happened."
Interviewed in this documentary, are "only people who were there, who could really talk about what was going on socially, culturally, politically at that time" states Sheinfeld, "We have everyone from Walter Cronkite, to George McGovern, to Angela Davis and Bobby Seal, to Carol Bernstein. All of these people can speak with great authority as to what was happing in the country at that time and were really experts in the areas that we were exploring."
"In addition to the amazing interviews, what is special to this documentary is the extraordinary access we had to the Lennon-Ono archives which allowed the team to uncover never before seen footage, including local news clips not seen since their initial broadcast more than 30 years ago," states Sheinfeld.
Furthermore, explains Leaf, "the movie is full of John Lennon on camera. He narrates his own stories both in archival audio, and with over three dozen songs (37 out of 40 are from Lennon's post Beatles career)". The lyrics were used, explains John, "to advance the story, comment on action that we see in the film, and to illuminate what he [John Lennon] is feeling and thinking at a given time."
"We wanted to make a movie that everybody, whether they where John Lennon's fans or not" states Leaf, could sit and watch and go 'Wow! What a great story!' 'I never knew that story,' and be touched and moved and be challenged."
"Even if you think you know this story you don't, even if you think you know about John and Yoko, you've never seen them like this before" explains Sheinfeld, "this movie really will take you on a journey to a place and a time and a world that will fascinate you."
"You will also see a Yoko Ono you haven't seen before" says Leaf, "She sat for three very extensive interviews with us" showing "emotions, humor, poignancy, thoughtfulness, and I think people will get a different sense of her than perhaps they have had before."
"Everybody that has seen the movie has been tremendously moved by it" states John Scheinfeld, "they feel that it's inspiring and powerful. We hope you will feel the same," and continues David Leaf, "that your readers will as well."