John Lennon will always be remembered for the role he played in changing the world of popular music and the industry it encompasses.
Most people, myself included, who are unfortunate enough to not have lived during the latter part of the 1960 and the early 1970s may only be clued into a semblance of the work that Lennon conducted in his efforts to get the US Army to withdraw their troops from Vietnam.
Now, however, David Leaf and John Scheinfield have teamed to depict Lennon's massive transformation into an idealistic icon that had the ability to influence the world. This is the first time that the duo, who have worked together on many TV documentaries in the past, have brought a documentary to the big screen, but then such is the appeal of John Lennon worldwide that they are virtually guaranteed a tidy take home of box office receipts.
For 'The US vs John Lennon' they were diligent in tracking down the major players involved in Lennon's world. There are excellent interviews with Yoko Ono, Gore Vidal and Nixon aide G Gordon Liddy intertwined with an excellent soundtrack. The research that carries through as the story neatly follows the chronology of his (Lennon's) life and delves into outside factors that may have influenced his beliefs and values.
Scheinfield and Leaf have given us an excellent window into what made Lennon tick. From the rebellious ways that grew from a scattered upbringing to the genuine attempts he felt he was making to prevent more people being killed in Vietnam. A particularly brilliant piece of archive footage shows Lennon being caught for an answer when a reporter from The New York Times repeatedly asks him if he has actually saved a single life in the Vietnam War.
His struggle with the US Immigration Office's many attempts to deport him over a four-year period are well detailed and, through this, it becomes easy to see just how Lennon managed to find a place in the hearts of millions while also aggravating many more conservatives and members of the Republican Party.
The only thing really lacking in the production is an interview with either Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr on how John's activities affected The Beatles and ultimately brought about its end. As the focus is on the time of his life spent with Yoko we see little of him in the early 1960s. An insight into his previous marriage may have also proved interesting.
Given the appetite for anti-war protest over the last few years 'The US vs John Lennon' gives plenty of food for thought. Vietnam was a war fought out of a fear of communism - replace Vietnam with Iraq and communism with Islam. In a world where so many, like Bono and his chums, believe that they are making a difference by simply meeting with world leaders in a bid to get them change their stance, it is refreshing to look back at the risks that Lennon was prepared to take for something he believed in. It clearly echoed in his music, which was not aimed at a particular market or to coincide with a world tour.
The real feeling that you will walk away from this film with is that Lennon was, simply, an idealistic young man who was prepared to go out on a limb to try and change the world. Whether he did scare the US authorities or not will still be up for debate but the one sure thing is that life was definitely more interesting with him around.