Why Members of John Lennon’s Family Were ‘Appalled’ by a Show About His Life

John Lennon’s family members were not happy to watch a special about his life. Here’s how they reacted to the film about their loved one.

Five years after John Lennon’s death, his family members could hardly believe a television program about his life. While some of his family members had problems with him in his life, they all agreed that the program John Lennon: A Journey in the Life did not capture him well. Here are the problems they had with the film.

John Lennon’s family was not happy about a program about his life

In 1985, the documentary John Lennon: A Journey in the Life aired. Per TV Guide, the film relied on interviews and documentary footage as well as dramatizations.

“In December 1985, in its Everyman series, BBC Television transmitted John Lennon: A Journey in the Life,” Ray Coleman wrote in his book Lennon: The Definitive Biography. “The role of John was taken by Bernard Hill, to whom Lennon had sent a good luck telegram when Hill had starred in an excellent London stage production called John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert.”

When it came out, though, his loved ones were not happy. They didn’t like the way the program portrayed themselves or Lennon.

“Five years after Lennon’s death, it was a unique opportunity to explain to millions in a ninety-five-minute TV documentary the rich panoply of Lennon’s life,” Coleman wrote. “But this miserable, jaundiced and hopelessly unbalanced programme totally ignored the existence of Julian, relegated Cynthia to a bit part, portrayed John’s mother as soft, and had dialogue that achieved the unthinkable: it made John Lennon appear a moronic puppet.”

Lennon’s half-sister Julia felt irritated enough that she decided to write a book to set the record straight.

“Predictably, some of Lennon’s family (Cynthia, Julian, and John’s half-sister, Julia) were appalled by the tone of the documentary, and by their own exclusion,” Coleman explained. “It irritated Julia so much that she decided to write her own book to set matters straight on John’s early years.”

John Lennon’s family have spoken extensively about him after his death

In the years since Lennon’s death, his ex-wife Cynthia, eldest child Julian, and sister Julia spoke extensively about him. Cynthia gave a number of interviews where she spoke measuredly about her ex-husband despite the hostile way their marriage ended. She also published a book called John in 2005.

Julia Lennon set to clear up any misconceptions about her half-brother’s childhood. She published the book Imagine This: Growing Up With My Brother John Lennon in 2007.

In interviews, Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon, the musician’s sons, have also often spoken about their father. While Julian speaks about Lennon with love, he is also critical of his father, given their strained relationship in Lennon’s lifetime.

Paul McCartney clashed with a director over a movie about his Beatles bandmate

John Lennon: A Journey in the Life isn’t the only project about Lennon with which the people close to him have had problems. Paul McCartney clashed with Sam Johnson, the director of Nowhere Boy, about the film, which followed Lennon in his adolescence. When he viewed the script, he recoiled at the way Lennon’s aunt, Mimi Smith, was portrayed.

“I said, ‘Sam, this isn’t true.’ Aunt Mimi was not cruel,” McCartney told the Daily Mail. “She was mock strict. But she was a good heart who loved John madly.”

He reportedly had several other problems with the script and declined Johnson’s invitation to view the film.

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