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    French, Spanish, German
    John Lennon & Yoko Ono - John & Yoko's Year of Peace
    Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 52 mins . PG . PAL


    By 1969, Beatlemania was as fervent as it ever was, but inside the Beatles, the cracks were well and truly widening. They were still able to create some great music, and although they hadn't played a live gig in years they were very much in the public eye, and there were still millions around the world that hung on every word. It was with this knowledge that husband and wife John Lennon and Yoko Ono began what became known as the 'Year of Peace', including all manner of gimmicks, protests, and stunts with the aim of promoting peace.

    1969 was an interesting year. The hippie movement was flourishing, espousing peace and love and the firing of salvos of flowers and beads at every opportunity. The West was suspicious of the East, and the Asian region in particular. The fear of communist domination reached all the way to the White House. The 'establishment' was wary and intolerant of anything that even smelled of dissent. It was in this volatile environment that John and Yoko decided to do their bit for world peace, by holding a 'bed-in'.

    The concept was simple, and upon reflection, somewhat naive. The couple climbed into a bed in a hotel room, and invited the rest of the world to symbolically climb in with them. They asked the media to come and discuss the idea of world peace, and being John Lennon, they descended like flies. The original plan was to take the 'bed-in' to the United States, but Lennon's year-old marijuana conviction meant that Canada become the centre of their North American peace conflict.

    This DVD captures the whole event, documentary style, and includes a great deal of archival footage of Lennon, Ono, their entourage, the media and their disciples. This is injected with new interview footage from 2000, from Ono and several of Lennon's staff who were heavily involved with the peace campaign. The documentary follows the Lennons from Toronto to Montreal and Ottawa, where they eventually met Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau. It includes some rare footage of the Lennons and, at under an hour, is possibly a little too short and of questionable value for money. It does have Lennon's music featured, though no complete songs, not even the footage of the couple recording Give Peace a Chance is full length.

    This will be of more than passing interest to Beatle-ologists and, more specifically, Lennon fans. It highlights the man's gentle nature, his genuine love of peace, his commitment to the things he believed in, and his immense charisma and ability to innocently create scandal with his honesty. The documentary does include footage from the Dakota apartments shortly after Lennon was shot dead in 1980, and is a harsh and saddening reminder of the fine line between peace and violence.


    While the whole of this feature is presented in a full frame aspect ratio, that is about the only thing that is consistent. The reason is simple, the footage ranges from 1969 to 2000, and most of that from 1969 was filmed with portable cameras and sound recorders in hotel rooms. The archival footage is all in black and white, and is of varying contrast. Black levels vary greatly, as does the sharpness of the image, though it never rises above average.

    There are examples of almost every type of film artefact including dirt, scratches, hairs, white marks, lines and glitches. It is almost expected, so should not deter anybody from viewing. The footage from the vigil after Lennon's death is coloured, but is soft, and of questionable clarity. It would appear to be news footage and does what it needs to in conveying its simple message.

    By contrast, the interview footage from 2000 is razor sharp, with superb clarity and rich colouring.

    There are Spanish, French, and German subtitles, but no layer change.

    The only audio option is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, but as most of the footage is from 1969/1970, this is basically mono in sound. It was mostly recorded on portable equipment, and there is some noticeable hiss, as well as some crackles and pops. The scratchy sound really is not important as there is very little music presented, and Give Peace a Chance was recorded in the hotel room and never sounded that great anyway.

    The feature and dialogue is mostly loud and clear. There are no problems with synchronisation, though sometimes voices become a little harder to hear as the microphone moves in and out of range of the person speaking.

    If you are hoping that the extras will sway your decision to purchase this 52 minute DVD, then forget it. There are none.

    Lennon's musical genius has never really been in doubt. His ability to drop himself in the poo is legendary, but it was his passion and desire for peace and truth that always prompted him to speak out. He has also been labeled a hippie, a druggie and a danger to young people, but anyone who truly opens their ears will hear the real message that peace and love are not just ideals, or something that a few ragtag hippies wanted 30 years ago. In many ways, the Lennons' message that "War is Over (If You Want It)" is more relevant today that it has ever been...

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  •   And I quote...
    "All they were saying, was Give Peace a Chance..."
    - Terry Kemp
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