Parents' Guide to

John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Disturbing docu looks at violence, mental illness.

John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial poster: spliced image of John Lennon in black, white, and sepia.

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The disturbing true crime series offers voyeuristic details about the hours leading up to John Lennon's murder, and the reasons why his killer's case never went to trial. While it offers some limited discussion of Lennon's music career and work as a peace activist, most of the documentary revolves around the investigation into Mark David Chapman, and the criminal justice system's efforts to understand his logic for doing what he did and why. These conversations center on the murderer's history of mental illness, which his former lawyers claim was not taken seriously enough. These allegations are reinforced by witness accounts and audio recordings of the defendant while he was being prepared for court, and by the comparisons made between his journey and that of John Hinckley Jr., who was confined to a psychiatric hospital for treatment for 35 years after publicly shooting President Reagan in 1981. It's this type of information that makes the docuseries interesting in a tabloid-ish sort of way. But no doubt that John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial will also succeed at stirring up memories among viewers old enough to remember where they were when they heard that John Lennon had died.

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