John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Imagine returning to theaters

The film that documents the making of the 1971 album Imagine will feature never-before-seen footage

John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, 1965

A new version of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1972 documentary film Imagine is coming to theaters worldwide on September 17, almost 38 years after the Beatles co-founder’s death. Once criticised as the vainglorious “most expensive home movie of all time,” has been now restored frame-by frame from the original reels and updated with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack mix from three-time Grammy-winner Paul Hicks. An additional 15 minutes footage was also included.

The movie, which was directed, produced and starred by Lennon and Ono, documents the recording process of Lennon’s 1971 album Imagine in New York and the UK. The original film presents a visual interpretation of the entire track list from Lennon’s Imagine LP along with a few songs from Ono’s Fly. Except for the couple, the movie also features footage of guest stars including Andy Warhol, Fred Astaire, Jonas Mekas, Dick Cavett, and Imagine producer Phil Spector.

“The people who all worked on Imagine were Peace People and it was so enlightening and exciting all the way through to be one of them,” Ono said in a statement. “Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world.”

The updated version includes 15 minutes of additional, never-before-released material, showing Lennon playing “How Do You Sleep?” and “Oh My Love” with his band, which featured Harrison, Rolling Stones pianist Nicky Hopkins, Alan White from Yes and bassist Klaus Voormann. It’s presented in a “raw” studio mix that aims to replicate how it would have felt to be in the center of the room while these music masters were recording.

The re-release is all part of the various media Ono is releasing to commemorate Imagine. On 9 October, what would have been Lennon's 78th birthday, she's also publishing Imagine John Yoko, a 320-page book detailing the album's creation, complete with remembrances of more than 40 people who were close to the couple at the time. Eighty percent of the photos have never been published before.

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