Two recently released DVDs dramatically explore the troublesome life of Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon (of The Beatles) on December 8, 1980, in New York City.
Excerpt from Wikipedia: Chapman has been widely associated with the book The Catcher in the Rye (by J. D. Salinger), which he carried with him at the time and claimed would explain his perspective. Various specific motivations have also been suggested. Chapman has since stated that what he did was wrong. There have been a number of interviews, books and films concerning Chapman and the murder of Lennon.
> Being released this Tuesday, and inspired by Jack Jones' sensationalist biography of Chapman, Let Me Take You Down, CHAPTER 27 (2007) stars Jared Leto and Lindsay Lohan, and focuses on the three fateful days leading up to the shooting. The film's title is based on the fact that the Salinger novel ends at chapter 26, and that Chapman--who saw himself as the reincarnation of the book's Holden Caulfield character--believed that if he shot Lennon five times in the back, then he'd write "Chapter 27" in the ex-Beatle's blood.
Leto gained 60 lbs for the role(!), and his performance received critical praise - learn more further below, under the film's synopsis.
> In his feature-film debut, Jonas Ball portrays Chapman in THE KILLING OF JOHN LENNON (2006), written and directed by Andrew Piddington, and released earlier this month on DVD.
Basing his script on Chapman's own words from interviews, writings, court transcripts, and depositions, Piddington retraces the events leading up to the shooting, which reverberated around the world. Ball's performance is also noteworthy, in a "riveting" and "extraordinary" film that provides "a stunning examination of a stalker's mind just before the kill."
THE KILLING OF JOHN LENNON
I was nobody until I killed the biggest somebody on earth.
A dramatization of Mark Champman's plan to murder John Lennon. Mark David Chapman, a 25-year-old security guard in Hawaii, bought a plane ticket to New York with the intention of killing the world's greatest musician and dreamer: The Beatles' John Lennon. Camping outside Lennon's apartment in New York waiting for an autograph, Chapman's childlike obsession with this "celebrity phony" descends into madness. Both gritty and dreamy, The Killing Of John Lennon is a stunning examination of a stalker's mind just before the kill.
Writer-director Andrew Piddington (Shuttlecock, The Fall) delves deep into the mind of Mark David Chapman in THE KILLING OF JOHN LENNON. Jonas Ball makes his feature-film debut as Chapman, the crazed gunman who shot John Lennon on December 8, 1980. Basing his script on Chapman's own words from interviews, writings, court transcripts, and depositions, Piddington retraces the events leading up to the shooting, which reverberated around the world. He goes back three months, showing Chapman's dysfunctional relationship with his mother (Krishna Fairchild) and his inattentiveness to his wife (Mie Omori) in Honolulu, where he was living after leaving his hometown of Decatur, Georgia.
Chapman soon becomes obsessed with J. D. Salinger's classic novel THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, seeing himself as fictional character Holden Caulfield, who must root out the phonies of the world. By accident, he chooses former Beatle John Lennon as his victim, ultimately reasoning that Lennon sings about imagining no possessions yet is a millionaire living in the ritzy Dakota building in New York City, so he must be brought down. Chapman buys a gun, heads to the Big Apple, and starts stalking the Dakota, gripping his copy of Lennon's comeback album, DOUBLE FANTASY, recorded with his wife, Yoko Ono.
Through voice-over narration, dialogue, and poignant one-person scenes, Piddington follows Chapman's dark, dangerous descent that results in cold-blooded murder. The film is shot on location in Decatur, Honolulu, and Manhattan, at the exact spots where the actual events took place. Ball gives a quirky, deeply felt performance, part Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, part Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy, part Valerie Solanas in I Shot Andy Warhol, embodying Chapman, while Piddington manages to hold viewers in suspense even though they know what is going to happen.
Film Synopsis: CHAPTER 27
No one can survive becoming a legend.
"Jared Leto proves his mettle. This is his show. The actor doesn't make the mistake of trying to scare us in a consciously florid way. The facts of what happened and the doughy facade of the 25-year-old at their center prove unsettling enough." -Los Angeles Times
"Leto's performance is more than just a junior Bobby De Niro stunt. It's a genuine transformation. Grade: B" -Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
On a raw, cold evening in early December, 1980, a disturbed drifter from Hawaii named Mark David Chapman (a frightening Jared Leto), met ex-Beatle John Lennon. Moments later, the entire world was shocked senseless. Based on chilling true events, Jared Leto is unforgettable in his mental and physical portrayal of an unhinged and angry man whose descent into madness led him to commit one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th century. It is a psychological portrait like no other that will leave you stunned long after its nerve-shattering and tragic conclusion.
Jared Leto (Requiem For a Dream, Alexander) takes us down the rabbit hole and into the mind of John Lennon murderer Mark David Chapman, in the effectively unsettling CHAPTER 27. Inspired by Jack Jones' sensationalist biography of Chapman, Let Me Take You Down, CHAPTER 27 dramatizes three fateful days leading up to the shooting.
The year is 1980. Mark David Chapman arrives in wintry New York City, where he quickly assumes the identity of The Catcher In The Rye protagonist Holden Caulfield, eager to cleanse a world filled with "phonies." Chapman makes his way to the tony Dakota apartment building where Lennon lives, and strikes up a tentative friendship with a sweetly naive groupie named Jude (Lindsay Lohan). Chapman becomes increasingly torn by his avenging impulses, losing himself further and further in Holden Caulfield's character, until an initial encounter with Lennon seals the fates of both men.
Leto, who gained more than 60 pounds for the part, immerses himself completely in the role of the mercurial Chapman, whose bulky exterior concealed a troubled soul and conflicted motivations towards the world. First-time director Jarrett Schaefer wisely forgoes any attempt to use the film as either a definitive explanation of the event or a stinging indictment of Chapman. Instead, Chapter 27 asks us to see how the source of tragedy can be more human than we realize, and how tragic acts so often hinge on the fragility of the human spirit.