In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatles fan Jerry Levitan tricked his way into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and equipped with a reel-to-reel recorder, he managed to persuade Lennon to do a spontaneous interview. Almost 40 years later, Josh Raskin (along with help from Jerry Levitan as producer) has moulded this interview into a mesmerizing animation, featuring time-honoured ink sketching alongside modern digital illustration.
The interview with Lennon may now be over 40 years old, but it’s incredible how applicable and significant his words still are. In a time still overshadowed with ongoing war and the threat of terrorism, Lennon could almost be speaking of the ‘establishment’ of modern-day and the troubles it faces. Adding to the charm of the film, the Musician and Activist seems to have a frankness and honesty in his answers, when speaking to the 14 year old Levitan. These are words and opinions that may not have been so forthcoming to a more seasoned, professional journalist.
Levitan says his Beatles encounter forever changed his life, not least because knocking at Lennon’s hotel room door could have gone horribly wrong had the famed Beatle or his handlers turned him away.
“My big fear (was) someone (saying), ‘Who are you? You’re nothing, go away!’ How would I have picked myself up from that?” Levitan says.
Instead, Lennon welcomed the Beatles fan across the threshold and saw value in making a recording with a 14-year-old to reach yet more young people with his message.