John and Yoko’s restored Imagine film is magnificent

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Imagine film, which has undergone a masterful restoration job and includes bonus footage, opens in theaters worldwide on September 17th.

By John Curley

This film (not to be confused with the 1988 documentary Imagine: John Lennon) is a 1972 made-for-television series of short films for each of the songs on John Lennon’s 1971 Imagine album that are tied together to make it feature length. The film can be considered the first long-form music video. Shot at Lennon’s country estate, Tittenhurst Park, in Ascot, England as well as London and New York City, it features the songs “Imagine,” “Crippled Inside,” “Jealous Guy,” “Gimme Some Truth,” “How Do You Sleep?,” “How?,” and several others. This release also includes bonus footage of Lennon in the studio recording “Oh My Love” and “How Do You Sleep?” with his stellar band that included George Harrison on guitar, pianist Nicky Hopkins, drummer Alan White, and Klaus Voormann on bass. The film, which was directed and produced by Lennon and Yoko Ono, opens in theaters worldwide on Monday, September 17th. It has been restored frame by frame and the soundtrack has been remixed and remastered. It looks and sounds terrific. Additional information about the film, screenings of it, and ticket purchase can be found at https://www.imaginefilmtickets.com/showtimes.

Lennon’s and Ono’s larger-than-life personalities are vividly on display in the film. The film for the song “Imagine” was shot in an all-white room at the Tittenhurst Park estate with Lennon on a white piano and Ono opening the room’s white drapes one by one to the let the sunshine into the room. The restoration job on the film makes it look absolutely stunning. And the “Jealous Guy” film, also shot at Tittenhurst Park, was mostly filmed from above by a camera operator in a helicopter and shows Lennon and Ono being chauffeured from the house to a lake on the property, where they got into a boat that Lennon rowed around the lake. Through the course of the film, there are guest spots by Jack Palance, Dick Cavett, Fred Astaire, and George Harrison. Andy Warhol is also shown in the film.

Ono’s songs featured in the film were quite experimental for the time. Viewers of the film will no doubt hear how Ono’s songs influenced artists to come later, such as The B-52s and Björk.

One bit of the film is unintentionally poignant. It shows Lennon and Ono aboard a ferry that is heading toward Lower Manhattan. Among the buildings in the shot is the still-under-construction World Trade Center.

The running time of the film is 83 minutes.

On October 5th, Universal Music will release Imagine—The Ultimate Collection, a remixed and remastered 140-track collection that includes four CDs and two Blu-ray discs. Imagine will also be released as a 2-CD Deluxe Edition, a 1-CD remaster, a 2-LP 180-gram heavyweight black vinyl edition as well as 2-LP limited-edition 180-gram clear vinyl. All versions of Imagine will also be available in digital formats.

Also on October 5th, Eagle Vision will release the Imagine film and the making of the Imagine album documentary Gimme Some Truth on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital formats. Both films were restored frame by frame and the soundtracks were remixed and remastered in 5.1 surround sound.

The theatrical trailer for the Imagine film can be seen below:

 

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