We’re always surprised to find out something we didn’t already know about John Lennon. The iconic figure of the bespectacled Beatle has been so relentlessly pawed over that it feels unimaginable that any stone has been left unturned—yet somehow, it still happens, and the landmark singer leaves us with another tidbit to share..
The latest in the series of ‘I can’t believe I didn’t know this about John Lennon’ was not only his penchant for 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s director Stanley Kubrick but his request for the filmmaker to make an on-screen adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel The Lord of The Rings featuring Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
Yes, in what could have been one of the most surreal sets of circumstances, Lennon was very keen on enlisting the services of the esteemed director Kubrick for a quest across Middle Earth featuring the Fab Four. As Metro reports, the singer made contact with the director to enquire about his availability. No wonder, too. Kubrick is widely regarded as one of the finest filmmakers of all time, and despite only releasing 13 feature films, he has been engraved into the cinema wall of fame after working on films like The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove and so much more. The latter of which would star Peter Sellers who also had a curious relationship with The Beatles, lending his titular character to a special performance.
Kubrick’s former right-hand man, Leon Vitali, recently released a documentary on his career Filmworker and spoke to Metro about the curious event. Vitali met the director when he was cast in his film Barry Lyndon but put his acting career aside when he was offered the opportunity to work with Kubrick so closely. It meant Vitali was clued up on the daily goings-on of the legendary director.
One such rumour Vitali was able to confirm was the Liverpudlian Lennon’s proposal to have Kubrick direct The Beatles in an adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings. “That was true. That was true,” was Vitali’s emphatic response to our wildest dreams. “They came to Stanley’s office to talk about it. I don’t think it was quite in Stanley Kubrick’s ball-park that idea. Yes, it was something that they came up with.”
He continued: “But it didn’t get very, very far at all. It was just an exchange of information and people were interested in doing it. But Stanley wasn’t. Let’s put it that way.” Vitali confirms that rather than the whole band the idea was largely Lennon’s.
“The person behind that was Lennon. John Lennon. He was crazy about that story, and he was nuts about 2001. He said that he’d watch 2001 sometimes once a week. He was so fascinated by it. I can see why he would have connected the dots. I am sure there are many, many ways that you can approach a subject like Lord Of The Rings. Lennon might have thought of it as a futuristic sort of project. Or thought that the grand scale of 2001 would have been needed to make a film about The Hobbit and that sort of genre. It is interesting.”
It certainly is. Was Lennon’s legendary vision suddenly moving into cinema, spotting Tolekin’s story for the cinematic jewel it would later prove to be? It appears he saw something in the story others hadn’t yet and was ready to make the leap, even if it was a good few decades before the Tolkein fascination would apply itself to the big screen.
However good or bad you think Peter Jackson’s telling of Tolkien’s tale may be, it’s hard to disagree that one featuring The Beatles would have been more interesting.