When John Lennon recorded his legendary album Imagine, he and Yoko Ono had the presence of mind to film everything. The pair had released albums and films together at this point and for this album, they decided to make a video scrapbook of sorts, combining footage from the recording sessions with a series of vignettes - some poignant, some humorous, some bizarre and all predating MTV by many years. Originally released in 1972, the Imagine film is part of a new reissue, combining it with the excellent documentary, Gimme Some Truth, about the recording of Imagine.
For the reissue, both films have been extensively restored and look great. When Imagine was released on VHS back in the 1980s, 15 minutes of footage was cut from the film. This has thankfully been restored to match John and Yoko's original vision for the movie. Here we see classic Lennon moments such as the "Imagine" clip with him at the white piano and surreal scenes such as John and Yoko playing chess with John "eating" the pawns while Yoko stuffs pieces down her dress.
Several celebrities, including Andy Warhol, Miles Davis and George Harrison make appearances. It is especially poignant to see Lennon and Harrison, who played on the album, interacting with each other not all that long after the Beatles' demise and a reminder of how much they are both missed. Some killer in the studio footage of Lennon recording "Gimme Some Truth" is proof positive of that.
The song "Gimme Some Truth" shares its name with an excellent documentary about the recording of Imagine, which is also included. Here we are treated to fly on the wall footage of Lennon and the band jamming in the studio and Lennon showing Nicky Hopkins "Imagine" on the piano. Lennon fans are truly blessed that he filmed so much of his life because this footage is amazing.
We see Lennon and Ono at a Grapefruit book signing and it is a reminder that stars of that magnitude don't often make themselves as accessible as John and Yoko did. Nowhere is this more evident than when Lennon welcomes in a fan named Claudio, who was searching for "the answer" and convinced the Beatles' lyrics were speaking to him, into his home for lunch. This scene, which would likely never happen today, shows the truly different world John and Yoko lived in.
For as much as the song "How Do You Sleep?" was directed at Paul McCartney, a scene where John laughingly goes over the lyrics with George Harrison shows that Lennon probably didn't hate his ex partner nearly as much as he had let on. The documentary is filled with great moments such as this and makes a wonderful companion to the Imagine film.
Both films have been restored for this project and look great. Audio options include Dolby Digital Stereo, Surround 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround Sound. A number of great extras are featured as well, including raw studio outtakes of "Jealous Guy" and "Gimme Some Truth" among others.
Imagine is a landmark album from one of the world's most important recording artists. Lennon and Ono had a genuine creative partnership and that is evident throughout (In one scene she tells Lennon the musicians are improvising too much and he takes the advice to heart). For fans of the album and for fans of John and Yoko, the Imagine/Gimme Some Truth DVD is a must-own item.