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A Forgotten Masterpiece of Music and Animation Arrives Online: THE JOHN LENNON SKETCHBOOK

The music of John Lennon was paired with animation most famously in the classic 1968 feature Yellow Submarine, with its soundtrack comprised entirely of Beatles songs. But Lennon’s solo work takes center stage in a long forgotten animated short that has finally been released via YouTube. Directed by acclaimed author, New York University professor, and Oscar-winning filmmaker John Canemaker, The John Lennon Sketchbook is a funny, lyrical, and touching tribute not only to Lennon’s music, but to his often underrated artwork as well.

Yoko Ono commissioned Canemaker to craft the short back in 1986, animating Lennon’s drawings and doodles. The result is a mini masterpiece. Lennon’s cartooning is ideal for the medium, given its loose, playful nature, reminiscent of cartooning greats like James Thurber and Jules Feiffer. Needless to say, the music is also first-rate. The two major Lennon works used here, “Imagine” and “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”, perfectly complement the visuals. There’s also sound bites from Lennon and Ono, highlighting his famously quick wit and the couple’s offbeat dynamic. To balance out the sweetness, there’s a bit of ominous foreshadowing, as Lennon remarks on the irony of pacifists like Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meeting extremely violent ends.

Many thanks to Cartoon Brew and Open Culture for bringing this short film to our attention.

What do you folks think? Are there any other John Lennon songs you’d love to see animated? Let us know below.

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