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 №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 №5 (and so does the IMDb), it’s actually Film №4 that he’s in.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.