John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Studio: Eagle Rock Film Productions
Release Date (Netflix): March 2019
I’m a bit slow to the party but I finally watched John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky. It is a brilliant film that tells the more of a story behind Lennon’s album, Imagine, that the world hadn’t heard about before. Peeling back the press hoopla and misdirected public “dislike” towards Yoko, the movie shows the couple in simplicity and honesty.
Directed by Michael Epstein, he was given extraordinary access to the massive audio, video and photo archives that yielded a ton of previously unseen goodies. The result is jaw-dropping amazing.
Trust me on this. You’re going to see a ton of stuff that the most ardent John Lennon fan hasn’t ever seen before.
To me, the most poignant part of the film is when we see, once again, Claudio, the visit by the shell-shocked Vietnam vet. The visit footage has been out for years. However, there was something about its inclusion in this documentary that, to me, more deeply revealed Lennon’s heart-felt compassion towards another human being. You could see
the compassion in his heart as he tried to reach – and calm – Claudio’s troubled mind. It wasn’t at all lost on me that it was during a similar act of kindness that John was shot by another man with a troubled mind.
We all have our heroes. Some of us put them on too high of a pedestal. Some others elevate our heroes to ‘god” status. Claudio clearly did. What struck me is that the same man who told the world that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ, told this man, “I’m just a guy that writes songs. I’m just a guy, man” as he looks at the troubled Vet with obvious compassion. He then invites Claudio into his home to have something to eat. The voiceover said, in effect, that Lennon had great empathy which can be quite painful.
Watching that pain only heightens the thoughts of what might have been had the senseless, tragic events of December 8, 1980 (was it really that long ago?!) hadn’t ever happened.