When filmmaker Michael Epstein decided to take a fresh look at the life of John Lennon, he knew that New York City would be his backdrop. Epstein says one of the most important things to tell the story of a person's life is geography.
The new PBS documentary, LENNONYC, which is part of the American Masters Series, takes an intimate look into the last decade of Lennon's life. Before his murder in 1980, Lennon charted new territory in America, and New York City was the epicenter of his search for happiness.
"John Lennon legitimately became a New Yorker," says Epstein. "And New York was just the right filmmaking lens where you could talk about his political activism, his music and the weight that he carried escaping the shadow of the Beatles."
There's no mistaking which photograph resonates most to Lennon fans. Lennon's arms are crossed, his eyes are behind wire-framed circles and he's wearing a sleeveless ring-necked white T-shirt with the words "New York City" inked like a tattoo on his chest. The Bob Gruen portrait conveys a sense of arrival and an attitude—“I’m not going anywhere.”
John Lennon’s 70th birthday would have been Saturday, October 9. In honor of the occasion, Central Park’s Summerstage will play host to a free screening of the latest Lennon biopic at 7pm. The location is fitting—John and Yoko spent most of their New York City moments in the distinguished sanctuary of the Dakota, across the street from the park.