21 June, 2008
John Lennon & Yoko Ono 1968
In November 1968 work began on one of one of John & Yoko's most ambitious film ventures, a 75-minute mini-feature called Rape. It starred Eva Majlata, a 21 year old Hungarian actress who couldn't speak English. She cannot escape the prying attentions of the camera which follows her around the streets of London, through a park, allowing her no privacy and almost causing her to walk into the path of a truck. She attempts to escape in a taxi, but is still followed. She is eventually cornered in an apartment from which she apparently cannot escape and her tearful pleas to the camera remain ignored. Rape was shot when John and Yoko were both at Great Charlotte Street Hospital following Yoko's miscarriage. The cameraman was Nick Knowland, who worked on most of John and Yoko's productions.
The film received its world premiere on Austrian Television on 31st March 1969. That year it was also shown at the Montreux Television Festival and the Mannheim Film Festival. A day after the Austrian TV broadcast John and Yoko held a press conference in Vienna. John commented: "We are showing how all of us are exposed and under pressure in our contemporary world. This isn't just about the Beatles. What is happening to this girl on the screen is happening in Biafra, Vietnam, everywhere." The theme of the relentless, clinical camera lens, 'raping' the privacy of individuals or groups for the entertainment of the viewing public intrigued critic Willie Frischauer, who wrote in the Evening Standard; "This film does for the age of television what Franz Kafka's The Trial did for the age of totalitarianism."