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Technically Skilled, But Perhaps Should Not Have Been Made
As a film, "The Killing of John Lennon" is extremely well done. It is expertly crafted. Well directed. Well acted. Well edited. Well shot. But that is a technical appraisal. I have a difficult time respecting this film because its emotional impact relies on one and only one factor, John Lennon's murder. If you do not care about John Lennon, the film has no impact. This is why this talented filmmaker chose his subject. Had he made a nearly identical fictional film that featured the murder of someone who the audience does not literally love, he'd have a film that very few would feel the need to watch. He'd also have a film that I could respect.
Instead, he has a film that Beatles and Lennon fans will watch, even if it in spite of themselves. And if Sean Lennon or Yoko Ono said, "You're raping John's corpse," well, I don't see how the filmmaker or the company that might buy and release this film could deny that in fact their money is soaked with John's blood.
The director himself was both arrogant and evasive at the Q&A after the movie. Someone in the audience asked, "Do you think Chapman would be happy after seeing this film?" Instead of answering, the director said, "I don't think he will ever get out of prison, and if he does someone will shoot him immediately." I assume that he avoided a real answer because the real answer is, "Yes. He'd be ecstatic. The fact that there's not one but two films about him will completely affirm whatever parts of his psychotic mind still cling to his desire to be someone. I've made Chapman very happy, that is for certain, even he never sees this movie." I did want to ask why he titled the film with "Killing" and not "Murder." He seemed the sort to enjoy a discussion on semantics.
I support this director's right to do the wrong thing, and only wish he'd have either chosen to not exercise it or would have made some effort, even if it were a disclaimer at the end of the film to express an acknowledgment of the exploitation and perhaps make amends for it. I am not saying that the filmmaker has to donate some or all of his profits from this film to a charity that supports the families of murder victims, but I am saying that he should. The Lennon family certainly doesn't need the profits, if there are any, from this film. And the filmmaker should not want the profits, because it is not his skills that will draw an audience but John's name and the world's affection for him.
I give this film a 4 because technically it earns a 7 and thematically earns a 1, which averages to 4.
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