There is no doubt that Mark Chapman shot John Lennon outside The Dakota building, New York, on 8 December 1980. There was no need for a massive hunt for the murderer, after shooting Lennon four times in the back, Chapman calmly waited for the police to arrive.
This made-for-TV documentary, originally released 25 years after the event, chooses to investigate why and how Chapman came to shoot Lennon. Much of the production contains re-enactments of key moments in Chapman’s life leading up to that fateful day in December 1980, and what went on in his disturbed mind, through a series of taped interviews with him recorded by journalist Jack Jones.
Chapman was a Beatle fan until he became a born again Christian in 1971, and he largely forgot about them as he carried on with his life. He went from one odd job to another and after a suicide attempt in 1977; he was treated for clinical depression. In the following period he became increasingly obsessed with the novel Catcher in the Rye and identified himself with its main character, Holden Caulfield.
In his head he had a hierarchy of imaginary characters in government-type departments that answered to him as President. They didn’t approve of his intention to kill Lennon, so they were replaced by other more amenable mental entities. A war was fought in his mind between good and evil, but the evil side got the upper hand. When he read John Lennon: One Day at a Time by Anthony Fawcet, he became increasingly angry because he regarded him as a rich phony that sung about peace and love.
As the experts in this film note, Chapman has never had any remorse for his actions, and in prison he has written reams of notes that justify his behaviour and views. He is completely narcissistic and Lennon was just a thing to focus on and shoot in order to come out of the shadow of failure and obscurity.
This is a chilling story told in a matter-of-fact fashion that provides an insight into Chapman’s twisted mind.
I KILLED JOHN LENNON / CERT: EXEMPT / DIRECTOR: CHRIS WILSON / NARRATOR: JOHN SIMM / RELEASE DATE: 25TH APRIL