Looking at Imagine nowadays is a much more curious experience. Several films released since, including The Beatles Anthology and director Solt's own Gimme Some Truth, have pulled back the curtain even further to provide even more rare footage and deeper insight into Lennon's tortured artistry and complex humanity. So while Imagine has a comfortable "80s documentary" feel to it, the actual content is rather run-of-the-mill at this point. Few people, I'm sure, need to be trotted down Menlove Avenue one more time to visit with Aunt Mimi, Mother Julia, etc, nor does anyone need to saunter into the Cavern Club, Shea Stadium, or even the Dakota Apartment.
Indeed, the film seems much like The Rutles with all the jokes strained out. I found myself smirking reflexively at the standard old newsreel clips I'd seen so many times before, almost like there were jokes to be found in stuff like the KKK burning Beatle records, or even in coverage of Lennon's killing!
Even so, it's a warm and well-intended film, and many of the interviews (including Cynthia Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Sean Lennon, who's wearing what looks like a Rhythm Nation jacket) are very nice to revisit. On the whole, it comes off like a museum-tour film, all PR spin and no real dirt to be found. But I can't say that's altogether a bad thing just a bit boring if you already know Lennon's life better than your own.