Drums loom large in Ringo Starr’s legend, we hear in the Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night. But movies loomed large in John Lennon’s. The songwriting rhythm guitarist and mouth organ player was the first member to step out of the band to enlist as Private Gripweed in Richard Lester’s antiwar satire How I Won The War. While he only had a minor role in the film, Lennon wrote the major work “Strawberry Fields Forever” while on location. Lennon, sometimes with Yoko Ono, made several experimental films, including Smile, Two Virgins and You Are Here and Rape in 1968. Eagle Vision will release two films made about Lennon, Gimme Some Truth and Imagine on Oct. 5.
The films come out as Geffen and Universal Music celebrate Lennon’s solo career with a six-disc box set, Imagine – The Ultimate Collection. Fully authorized by Yoko Ono Lennon, the expanded edition pairs Ultimate Mixes with Raw Studio Mixes that allow listeners to hear Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band’s original live performances without studio effects or overdubs. The movies underwent a similar process to match the original celluloid.
Both the Imagine and Gimme Some Truth video releases were frame-matched to the original negatives, “with every frame hand-cleaned and restored, and the respective soundtracks remixed and remastered in 5.1 surround sound,” promises the press statement.
Widely regarded as one of the first “video albums,” Imagine was produced and directed by John and Yoko in 1971. The film is a “cinematic collage of color, sound, dream, and reality” which creates “a world of imagination as rich and moving as the music that accompanies it.” Imagine features a different visual treatment for every song on the record. The soundtracks to the films were remixed in surround sound by engineer Paul Hicks.
Shooting began during the summer of 1971 at John and Yoko’s Tittenhurst home in Ascot, England, as they began recording sessions for the Imagine album. Shooting continued in New York where the album was completed at the Record Plant, with Phil Spector co-producing. George Harrison, Fred Astaire, Andy Warhol, Dick Cavett, Jack Palance, and Jonas Mekas all put in appearances.
The film Gimme Some Truth chronicles the “creative process of how the Imagine album came into being, in turn providing a glimpse into Lennon’s creative genius and including many striking, special moments between John and Yoko,” according to the press statement. “The progress of the making of the songs featured on the album is followed through from their inception to the final recording process in Gimme Some Truth, with the film serving as a stunning, fly-on-the-wall document of how one of the most iconic and important albums of the rock era came into being.”
Besides the films, Thames & Hudson (UK) and Grand Central Publishing (US) are set to publish Imagine John Yoko by John Lennon & Yoko Ono, which tells “the definitive inside story – told in revelatory detail – of the making of the legendary album and all that surrounded it.” The book will come out on what would have been Lennon’s 78th birthday, on October 9. Rolling Stone ranked Lennon in the Top 5 of the magazine’s “100 Greatest Singers Of All Time” list. Lennon was been posthumously honored with a Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award, two special BRIT Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and was been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Imagine will also have a limited theatrical run highlighted by an exclusive, immersive Dolby Atmos mix of the music in selected theaters, with further exclusive extra material.
“Imagine” is the best-selling single of Lennon’s solo career. It has been covered by Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Ray Charles, Madonna, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Diana Ross, Herbie Hancock and Joan Baez. The lyrics were inspired by Ono Lennon’s “event scores” in her 1964 book Grapefruit. She was officially co-credited as a writer on the track in June 2017. “Imagine was created with immense love and concern for the children of the world. I hope you enjoy it,” Yoko says in the preface of the 120-page book that accompanies the box set.
Gimme Some Truth and Imagine will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Oct. 5.