The primary message I took away from "John Lennon—Love is All You Need" (2010), a documentary about John Lennon's life, was that love really was all … something or another. Not quite sure what.
Confessional: I'm not a Beatles fan. I think their music sucked. The best thing about the band was that they had a guy named "Ringo" in it. That was just cool. Gotta love the name "Ringo." Say it with me: "Ringo." Anyway, I listened to a lot of Duran Duran in the 80s, so maybe my taste in music is questionable. You may debate me on this in the comments section.
The Beatles — certainly the early Beatles — were more about their hype than about the music (no matter how many people say, "It was about the music, maaaaan"). In fact, someone (probably Ringo), even says the same thing deep within director Alan Byron's documentary. Referencing the noise level of the teenaged girls in the crowd, he (probably Ringo. Riiiinnnngggooo) says, "If they'd stopped and listened for a minute, we'd have been finished," or something akin to that. The aforementioned teenaged crowd (which probably included your parents) that greeted the coming of the Beatles was raucous, if nothing else, and they loved their Fab Four at a decibel level that would put many airports to shame. Despite that, the Beatles were just a boy band, even if they were THE boy band.
For those of you too young to remember this (as I am, though now I've watched a documentary about it — hey, look, here we are), the closest comparison the Beatles of then have to a pop culture figure of today is what would happen if Maru the Cat was to go on a world tour. Yeah, you go ahead an click on that link. it's a cat video. Welcome to the internet.
I'm sure we'll get around to reviewing Maru later. Right now, back to this biodoc. Despite my disdain for all things Beatle-y, I didn't have to drink too heavily while watching this film. Okay, fine, I had to break out the whiskey during the innumerable, badly-framed shots of broadcaster (and, ahem, alleged sex offender) Paul Gambaccini's pot belly encased in a vivid pink shirt, but other than that, the doc was put together reasonably well, especially if you already have some Beatles background — say, if you're a fan.
We get to see the early, heady days of Beatledom, when no one was more surprised at the Beatle's popularity than the Beatles; we get commentary and insight from people who knew them, such as John Lennon's first wife, Cynthia (and who knew he was married before the Yoko years? Not me); and, of course, we get feminist Camille Paglia expressing her volcanic hatred of all things Yoko.
Final Judgement: Absolution. A fine companion piece for any fan of Lennon or the Beatles. Three halos.
A last warning, however: this film is mostly in British. If you aren't familiar with British as a language, or don't have a superior sound system in your house so as to pick out what these people are saying, there could be trouble.
You've been warned.