Lennon Naked

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Lennon Naked
Written by Robert Jones
Directed by Edmund Coulthard
Starring Christopher Eccleston
Theme music composer Dickon Hinchcliffe
John Lennon
The Beatles
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Edmund Coulthard
Katherine Lannon
Cinematography Matt Gray
Editor(s) Philip Kloss
Running time 82 minutes
Production company(s) Blast! Films
Original network BBC Four
Original release
  • 12 June 2010 (2010-06-12)
  • 23 June 2010 (2010-06-23)
    (United Kingdom)
  • 21 November 2010 (2010-11-21)
    (United States)
  • 6 December 2010 (2010-12-06)
  • 8 December 2010 (2010-12-08)

Lennon Naked is a 2010 television biographical film focusing on the life of John Lennon between 1967 and 1971.[1] It stars Christopher Eccleston as John Lennon and was directed by Edmund Coulthard.

The film was first broadcast on 23 June 2010 on BBC Four,[2] and received its US premiere on PBS on 21 November 2010 as part of Masterpiece Contemporary,[3] airing the day before the American Masters documentary LennoNYC, which begins where Lennon Naked ended.[4] The film premiered in Australia on 5 December 2010.


In 1964, in the peak of Beatlemania, a reluctant John Lennon (Eccleston) is persuaded by manager Brian Epstein (Rory Kinnear) to meet Freddie Lennon (Christopher Fairbank), the father who abandoned him seventeen years earlier, with the press in attendance. When they meet, John accuses his father of abandoning him, but his father says that he left it up to John. He and Brian quickly leave the meeting.

The movie then jumps to 1967, after Brian Epstein has died. The Beatles are giving a press conference about their new film, Magical Mystery Tour. John is sceptical about the film, but Paul (Andrew Scott) convinces him to go through with the idea. John then invites his father to his mansion to live with him. Freddie Lennon arrives and meets his grandson, Julian.

Sitting with his wife, John reads the criticism of Magical Mystery Tour, while comparing his wife to Brigitte Bardot, whom he says he will meet after he returns from India. John finds a letter addressed to him, with the word "Breathe" written on it. Later, after finding his father in a neighbour's house, Freddie reveals that he has a 19-year-old girlfriend named Pauline, with whom he wants to live. Lennon accuses his father of leaving him again, and then leaves, after telling his father that he won't live with him any more.

After meeting Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Beatles quickly return to London, and in a press conference they say they made a mistake when they trusted Maharishi. The journalists are curious about the Beatles' new business – Apple Records. At night, before meeting Derek Taylor, John glimpses Yoko Ono from a window. John reveals to Derek that she sends him letters—one of them, the "Breathe" one. Derek and John go to meet Brigitte Bardot, and in the car John tells Derek he sometimes thinks he is Jesus Christ. Derek tells him that being John Lennon is enough to "walk on water". John is nervous about his meeting with Brigitte, and takes a tablet of LSD along with Derek.

The next morning, John returns home, and during his drug-trip, he remembers the public's reaction at the "more popular than Jesus" statement he made two years before. He gets into his pool, and his wife Cynthia demands that he gets out. John says that he can't walk on water after all, and Cynthia and Julian leave. John stays with Pete Shotton in his mansion, and tells him he didn't do anything with Brigitte after all. He tells him to bring Yoko.

Yoko arrives and records an album with Lennon, which would become Two Virgins. They spend the night together, and John tells Pete that he wants to live with Yoko. Sometime later, Yoko and John hold a gallery event in which they set free various white balloons, and John says that "he's setting them free, including him". Cynthia demands that John stop his adultery with Yoko. Cynthia is willing to forgive John, but he doesn't care and chooses Yoko. While John is leaving, Julian is seen playing with a ball all alone, and he throws the ball at John. Lennon, however, throws it away and doesn't pay attention to his son.

All through the film, John has memories about himself in the Blackpool docks, when he was six years old.

In a meeting with the Beatles, Derek is worried about releasing a double album, because Apple is losing money. After losing patience with Paul, John and Yoko leave the meeting and go to their house, and take a picture of what would be the cover of Two Virgins. Yoko reveals that she's pregnant, and John is elated by the news. The police later arrive because of charges of drug possession, and Yoko loses the baby. John proposes to Yoko and she accepts.

After a press conference, John reveals to Yoko that his father has had another child – David. John is later seen going through heroin withdrawal, and tells Pete that Yoko is pregnant again and he needs to clean up the place. Pete tells John that he must do it himself, but he refuses, so Pete leaves him. Yoko later loses the baby again.

In a meeting with the Beatles, John announces to his partners that he is leaving the Beatles. Paul convinces John not to tell the press, and John calmly leaves. In 1970 Paul himself announces he is leaving the Beatles. John throws rocks at Paul's house, to the shock of the fans outside.

John is later seen with a therapist, Arthur Janov, who has him remember when he was six years old – the day that he was at Blackpool with his parents. In his memories, John sees his parents deciding who will keep him, and his father has John choose for himself. John chooses his father. However, after seeing his mother leave, he runs after her and his father leaves. A traumatised John recounts how he shouted to his father to go with them, and how his mother told him that he was not going to live with her, but with her aunt Mimi.

John's father is later reunited with John, when he wants to create a biography about his life. John presents him with one of his latest songs – Mother. He loses patience with his father once again, accusing of him never visiting. He leaves his father.

At a press conference, John and Yoko announce that they will go to New York City to live. The final scene shows John and Yoko getting on a plane and flying away, while a text on screen reveals that after they left in 1971, John never returned.


The credited cast consists of the following:[5]


According to Sam Wollaston of The Guardian, the film's "continual looking back over the shoulder to childhood, to his mother and father, takes Lennon Naked beyond the merely biographical: it gives it a depth and a Freudian quality"; putting aside minor issues with Eccleston's accent and his age (the 46-year-old actor was playing a man who is in his 20s for most of the film), Wollaston called Eccleston's work "a brilliant performance, in a brilliant film, because what Eccleston does get spot-on is the spirit of Lennon, with all his complications, contradictions and demons."[6]

Upon its US premiere Robert Lloyd, the television critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote "it doesn't much hang together as a drama and will be of interest mainly to Beatle completists and Eccleston fans, of whom there are, after all, more than a few....none of the actors are given enough space to build a solid character, either – even the formidable Yoko comes off as a bit of a simp. Minus any demonstration of his importance, and with Eccleston playing the pained, petulant John to the near exclusion of the talented, charming one, we are left just with a portrait of a rich and prickly young man."[7]


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