Watch: John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Smile’

Film No 5 1968 by Yoko Ono

Today is the 45th anniversary of the premiere of John Lennon and Yoko Ono‘s Film No. 5, which has since come to be known as Smile. The 52-minute experimental work debuted at the Chicago Film Festival, where apparently half of the audience walked out by the 30-minute point (funny given Ono originally wanted the film to be 5 hours long). Ono is often credited as the true director, while Lennon is merely the subject, the entire film is a close-up on his face shot in super slow motion as he sporadically smiles (actual time lapsed: 3 minutes). The soundtrack, of birds chirping and planes flying above (any of it recorded during those 3 minutes?), is heard in real time, giving it he effect that the visuals are also actually at normal speed.

It’s all very Warhol-ish, and you should test your own patience or your interest in staring at the Beatle’s face in segmented form below. But don’t strain your eyes looking for Oscar-nominated actor Michael Lerner in his film debut. Though he says he was in Film No. 5 (and so does the IMDb), it’s actually Film No. 4 that he’s in.

 

 

 

 

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