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Nowhere Boy

Dicembre 2010
L’adolescenza ribelle di John Lennon e i suoi travagliati rapporti con la madre e la famigerata zia Mimi. La grigia Liverpool del dopoguerra e la forza trascinante del rock’n’roll anni ‘50. Nowhere Boy è il film che esplora le radici del fenomeno Beatles nel 30° anniversario dalla morte di John. Vi proponiamo una scena da ascoltare e il video.

di Mark Worden

File audio:

Aaron Johnson as the young John Lennon in the film Nowhere Boy
Aaron Johnson as the young John Lennon in the film Nowhere Boy
The real John Lennon in the Beatles movie Help! (1965)
The real John Lennon in the Beatles movie Help! (1965)

When the world woke up on the morning of December 9th, 1980, it couldn’t believe the news. John Lennon, the 40-year-old former Beatle, was dead. Had it been a drugs overdose, or a car crash, then it might have fitted the rock’n’roll lifestyle, but it was worse than that. A deranged fan, Mark Chapman, had ambushed John and his wife Yoko Ono outside their home, the luxury Dakota apartment building in New York, the night before. Chapman shot Lennon at 11 o’clock at night, but the time difference meant that it was 4 o’clock in the morning in Lennon’s native England. Most people heard the news on the radio at breakfast (“breakfast television” didn’t exist yet).  
It was a sad day. A cultural icon had been destroyed, a man who had sung of peace and love had died violently. Since then it has emerged that Lennon was – in spite of his image – a violent man (for more, read the biographies by his first wife, Cynthia Lennon, and by Albert Goldman).  This could have been the result of his difficult childhood and adolescence. This is the subject of the film Nowhere Boy, which receives its Italian release this month. It’s directed by Sam Taylor-Wood and stars Aaron Johnson (they recently had a baby together). There’s an excellent performance by Anne-Marie Duff, as Julia, John’s estranged mother, but the real star is Kristin Scott Thomas, who is wonderful as John’s Aunt Mimi.


where’s dad?


Speaker: Mark Worden (Standard British accent)

This month marks the 30th anniversary of a shocking event: the murder of John Lennon by a deranged fan, Mark Chapman, outside the Dakota Building in New York. Lennon was 40 years old. Chapman, who was 25 at the time, is still in prison. Lennon had, of course, been a member of The Beatles, but his solo career, which produced such great songs as “Imagine,” was also impressive.
Lennon once admitted that the thing that drove him to become a star was the lack of attention that he received as a child. His childhood was certainly complicated and it provided the inspiration for the film, Nowhere Boy, which is released in Italy this month.
Lennon was raised by his Aunt Mimi. His mother, Julia, and his father, Alf, had disappeared from his life when John was five. When John was a teenager he discovered that his mother was living in the same part of Liverpool. They got to know each other again and Julia even taught him to play the banjo, but their relationship ended dramatically when she was run over and killed by a car that was driven by a drunk off-duty policeman.
John was 17 when he lost his mother “for the second time.” This scene from Nowhere Boy takes place a few months before Julia’s death. It is John’s 17th birthday and Julia is hosting a party for him at her house. Julia, who is played by Anne-Marie Duff, has gone outside to have a cigarette. John, who is played by Aaron Johnson, decides to join her:

Julia (Liverpool accent): I wonder if someone’s up there, on Mars or something, having a quick cigarette like me.
John (Liverpool accent): Where’s Dad? They’re called Dads, right? Most people I know have got one.
Julia:  I don’t think…
John: Oh, don’t you, Mum? Well, I do. Think, think, think: that’s all I do. Where’s Daddy, Mummy? “Alf,” that’s his name, right? Well, where’s fucking Alf, then?
Julia: Please don’t swear, John!
John: Make you feel uncomfortable, does it? Well, try being me for the last 17 years! When everybody asks why your Auntie’s your Mum, now, that’s uncomfortable. (Julia starts crying)  Oh, here we go! Who turned the taps on?
Julia: Please don’t be horrible to me, John!
John: No, me being horrible to you? Oh, I see: horrible John, naughty John, poor Julia! (Julia starts to walk back towards the house) No, no, no, no walking away. Look, I know you’re good at it, but not tonight.
Julia: John!
John: Where is he?
Julia: (she moans) Aaaah! New Zealand, maybe. I don’t know!
John: Not round the corner, like you?
Julia: He was in the Merchant Navy. No letters, no money. He abandoned us!
John: And you abandoned me!
Julia: It was a temporary thing: Mimi agreed!
John: Temporary? I’m still living with her!
Julia: I wanted you back, I always wanted you back!
John: Oh, I believe you, honest!
Julia: She never gave you back!
John: But, surely, I’m not Mimi’s to give! You’re my Mum!
Julia: She... she loves you so much!
John: Yeah, more than you.

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