The trailer for "The U.S. Vs. John Lennon"
"The U.S. Vs. John Lennon" (Lionsgate): Everyone knows the story of John Lennon and the Beatles. But it's less known, especially to younger audiences, how Lennon was the focus of FBI investigations during the Vietnam War Era because of the Nixon Administration's paranoia against protesters.
"The U.S. Vs. John Lennon" , which goes on sale Feb. 13, is a frightening reminder of that. The 96 minute documentary looks at how John Lennon changed from a cuddly Beatle to an outspoken protester of the Vietnam War and the Nixon Administration policies. It also recounts how the government used the controversy to hold the U.S. citizenship Lennon hoped for in hostage.
It was indeed a scary time. As Yoko recounts early in the film, while the Lennons were on a Michigan stage playing a benefit concert to help free John Sinclair, who was busted for possession of a small amount of marijuana, the FBI was in the audience taking down the lyrics to his songs. The film recounts how the government spied on him through wiretaps.
The hatred and pervasity of the Nixon Administration was chilling. In one of the bonus features, Nixon Administration member G. Gordon Liddy recalls how he ordered his children planning to attend a public event not to sing Lennon's song "Imagine" when it was played there.
The DVD includes interviews with his widow, Yoko Ono Lennon, George McGovern, Bobby Seale, Gore Vidal, John Dean, author Ron Kovic, John Sinclair, Geraldo Rivera, Walter Cronkite and Mario Cuomo.
It includes 10 clips of additional footage left out of the film. The most touching is a reading of the letter Yoko wrote to the New York State parole board requesting her husband's killer remain in jail. It's an emotional moment for Yoko, who manages to read the letter, but not without her voice quivering to the point of almost breaking.
For anyone who lived through the '60s turmoil, the documentary brings back frightening reminders of the paranoia that swept the country.
It also sends a message that the nation should have learned from its mistakes. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case thanks to the Bush Administration.