DVD Review: John Lennon & Yoko Ono- Imagine/Gimme Some Truth

Aaron ConnDVD Review, MusicLeave a Comment

Imagine Gimme Some TruthGimme Some Truth

John Lennon would’ve turned 78 this year. Now almost 38 years after his tragic death, Lennon’s music continues to live on through countless reissues and remasters of his work- both by himself and with the Beatles. For this year, Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono has authorized a remixing of her husband’s 1971 album Imagine. Some fans might be more interested with the DVD/Blu-ray release attached to the remixed album:  Imagine/Gimme Some Truth, a double feature home video release coming from the people at Eagle Vision. This is a great archival release, making it the perfect visual counterpart to the 1971 album.

What’s included
This DVD/Blu-ray release comes with two movies/documentaries, all placed conveniently onto one disc.  The main feature here is the original 1972 Imagine music film, which is seeing it’s debut release on DVD and Blu-ray. The second feature is the 2000 archival documentary Gimme Some Truth, an hour long feature that documents the making the the Imagine album. Along with the two main features comes 20 minutes worth of bonus features.

Imagine (1972 music film)
Imagine John and YokoPeople are more than likely very familiar with the iconic promotional video for “Imagine.” Believe it or not, he and Ono made a whole movie worth of promotional/music video and sequences all tied together. That’s simply what the Imagine movie is. While a fairly simple concept for a movie, it does get experimental in parts. Given Ono’s experience in making avant-garde/art films, some of that crosses over here.

John and Yoko morningThe music featured in the movie is a mixture of John’s and Yoko’s- with John’s coming from Imagine and Yoko’s coming from her 1971 album Fly. While this movie might not be for everyone (especially with the use of Yoko’s music), I personally enjoyed it. As for the experimental/avant-garde elements- I think they make for for some eye-catching visuals. Throughout the movie, Ono’s art concepts are seen throughout- all while using John and Yoko’s music. One of my favorite parts in the movie involves John and Yoko playing chess, with the pieces all the same color. With Yoko’s “Don’t Count the Waves” playing in the background, it makes the sequence simply haunting. Another highlight is the “How Do You Sleep” sequence, which shows John and Yoko playing pool blindfolded. While far from the song’s actual subject (Paul McCartney), I still think it’s a feast for the eyes.

Imagine 1972 VHS

Cover art for the VHS version of Imagine (1972)

Several of the sequences might look familiar to some fans. This is probably because the footage from the 1972 movie was later used in documentaries and newer music videos made after John died.  This movie is where that footage comes from. This release is similar to the DVD release of the Doors’ Feast of Friends, a movie about the Doors directed by Jim Morrison. While the movie itself wasn’t released on home video until more than four decades later, the footage shot was later used in Doors music videos that aired on MTV. Now decades later, we live in a time where we finally have easy access to the original source material

The original Imagine movie was release on VHS and Laserdisc in 1985 and 1986. These quickly went out of print and even then- those releases cut the movie down to 50 minutes. With this new release, the movie is present in its entirety at 70 minutes long. The movie has also been restored and remastered for this new release. The results are outstanding. Even though I own the DVD, the digital transfer here looks remarkable.

Gimme Some Truth (filmed 1971, released 2000)

Original Gimme Some Truth

Artwork for the original release of Gimme Some Truth (2000)

In 1988, director Andrew Solt released through Warner Brothers Pictures Imagine: John Lennon. While the documentary covers Lennon’s life and career, it switches back and forth to the making the actual Imagine album. In 2000, Solt was asked by Yoko Ono to make another documentary- solely using the 1971 footage Solt worked with while making the 1988 movie. In doing so, Solt created Gimme Some Truth– a documentary that covered the making of Imagine.

John Lennon recordingUnlike the original Imagine movie, Gimme Some Truth wasn’t entirely lost prior to this DVD/Blu-Ray’s release. It’s out of print but there are still used DVD copies going up for sale here and there. I think adding Gimme Some Truth to this official release was a smart choice, considering it’s from the same time period. As a documentary, Gimme Some Truth is good. It’s amazing how the making of this album was all captured on film, with no one really aware of how big this album, this timecapsule, would be. You’ll get to see John and Yoko hanging out at their estate of Tittenhurst Park in Ascot, London with friends and musicians such as George Harrison, Klaus Voorman, Nicky Hopkins, Phil Spector and future Yes drummer Alan White.

Lennon Spector

Some of the scenes in Gimme Some Truth were also in the 1988 Imagine: John Lennon movie. This includes John speaking to a fan outside the studio and John losing his patience when recording the harmonies for “Oh Yoko!” While it’s nice to have these scenes in the movie, it’s something that most fans have already seen before. I’ve also found that in watching both features back to back, there is a lot of repetition. However, this doesn’t mean Gimme Some Truth is bad at all. Far from it. It’s a nicely edited documentary from beginning to end.  Like the previous feature, Gimme Some Truth looks like it has been cleaned up- albeit not to the same extent.

Bonus features
There are a few bonus features included on here. First, there’s three  “raw studio out-takes” of John recording his vocals for “Jealous Guy,” “How?” and “Gimme Some Truth.” All three are presented with two film angles on the left and right of the screen. The last bonus feature is a seven minute video of a photoshoot that John and Yoko did with photographer David Bailey. The three studio out-takes are pretty neat while the photoshoot contains a couple of laughs.

Lennon Ono ImagineEagle Vision and Universal’s double feature of Imagine and Gimme Some Truth is a very strong release. Even if you already own the older Gimme Some Truth DVD, this is still worth getting for the original Imagine movie alone. I would be interested in seeing Eagle Vision release more lost videos from John Lennon. The two that come to my mind are John and Yoko’s week on The Mike Douglas Show and the 1972 Live in New York City concert film. The former has been long out of print on DVD and VHS while the latter has yet to see an official DVD release.

For the time being, Beatlemaniacs and Lennon fans alike can enjoy this release.

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Aaron ConnDVD Review: John Lennon & Yoko Ono- Imagine/Gimme Some Truth