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American Justice - The John Lennon Assassination
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He was a troubled man whose boyhood fascination with one of the world's greatest stars turned into a psychotic obsession. The shots he fired spelled the end to whatever innocence was left in rock and roll. Mark David Chapman was one of John Lennon's biggest fans. Before he killed the iconoclastic superstar he made sure to get his autograph the last one Lennon ever signed. After he fired four shots from across the street as Lennon entered Manhattan's Dakota apartment building he waited calmly for police to arrest him. Six months later he was sentenced to 20 years to life. AMERICAN JUSTICE revisits the tragedy through interviews with many of the parties involved including Chapman's attorneys the arresting officer and in a rare taped interview from his cell Chapman himself. Forensic psychiatrists explore the twisted fantasy of Chapman's life where the line between celebrity worship and stalking blurred into indistinction. Dramatic footage of the crime scene and aftermath bring the incident to life and legal experts examine the possibility that Chapman will be freed he is eligible for parole in 2000. It's a comprehensive chronicle of the murder that stunned a generation.
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Greater detail is given to Chapman's background. Stories of his mother's obsession with him are quite disturbing. Although Chapman grew up a Beatles fan, he rejected the band after a bad experience with LSD caused him to become a born again Christian. He condemned Lennon's "bigger than Jesus" quote and the verse in his song "Imagine" about there being no heaven. The main influence on Chapman, however, was the J.D. Salinger novel The Catcher In The Rye whose protagonist Holden Caulfield sees an adult world full of "phonies." Chapman began to believe Lennon was the biggest phony of them all.
After pleading guilty to his crime, Chapman was sent to Attica Correctional Facility which was the site of the bloodiest prison riot in U.S. history. Ironically, John Lennon wrote the song "Attica State" and appeared at a benefit concert for the families of the victims of the riot or, more specifically, the police retaliation during the riot soon after he emigrated to New York. The documentary includes some recordings of Chapman in prison explaining his actions. It also describes his life while incarcerated--filing his hate mail, having conjugal visits with his wife four times a year, and producing Christian videos. The film does a decent job getting into the troubled mind of Chapman to shed some light on why he murdered Lennon--as bizarre as the explanations are. It is very well-done as are all the American Justice episodes I've seen but I would have liked another episode included on this disc as it is only 45-minutes.
So he figured killing "the world's biggest somebody" would end his being "the world's biggest nobody". And now he's a "Christian" (again) who -- conveniently -- believes "God" has forgiven him for committing the murder. So "God," too, is another of his self-justifying delusions.
Only three stars (four stars are "liked," five are "loved") because I was as devastated as many millions of others by the religionut assassination which, even with the extensive information in this presentation, then made and still makes no sense.
The details of Chapman's psychosis and his disturbing childhood are discussed at great length as well as his obsession with Catcher in the Rye and John Lennon himself. It's an eye-opening documentary and if you've ever been intereted in John Lennon's assasination, you will definitely enjoy it.