<p>Imagine: Deluxe Edition (DVD)</p><p>Imagine John Lennon comes from a treasure trove: the legendary musician's own collection of more than 240 hours of film and videotape, much of it never seen by the public. With cooperation from Yoko Ono in its creation, producers David L. Wolper and Andrew Solt (partners on This Is Elvis) transform the archival footage - and a monumental 36-tune soundtrack - into a spellbinding account of a complex, fascinating man. Lennon's own voice narrates "a classic film biography" (Roy Leonard, WGN-TV/Chicago).</p>
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It can hardly be a coincidence that this "deluxe edition" of John Lennon – Imagine should be issued in late 2005, a couple of months after what would have been the former Beatle's 65th birthday and mere days before the 25th anniversary of his death. Whether that's cynical, poignant, or just good marketing is moot; what matters is that Lennon's impact, not just as a musician but as a public figure, remains largely undiminished. The film, released theatrically in 1988, will already be familiar to many fans. "Narrated" by Lennon himself and culled from hundreds of hours of footage, much of it home movies shot by John and Yoko Ono, Imagine is a substantial, reasonably illuminating portrait of the man, warts and all, from childhood through the Beatle years, his solo career, and his life with Yoko straight up to his fatal encounter with Mark David Chapman. It's the new bonus features that are the principal draw here; but whether or not they qualify as "deluxe" is arguable. The Lennons' radio interview with a BBC reporter is notable mostly for John's patience in the face of idiotic questions like "Is love very important to young people today?" The ten or so minutes spent with Lennon's school headmaster, William Ernest Pobjoy (love the name), yield little insight, especially considering that the two were at the school at the same time for just one year, half a century ago; likewise, a new "making of" documentary with Ono, writer-director Andrew Solt, producer David Wolper, and others isn't exactly ground-breaking. However, a previously unreleased performance of "Imagine," with Lennon and some unknown accompanists on acoustic guitar, is nice, as is some heretofore unseen footage of the Lennons at home on their Tittenhurst Estate. Add to that a fine transfer and Dolby digital sound, and you have another addition to the filmed legacy of the Beatles--a subject that, for many of us, will never be old news. --Sam Graham
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