Self Portrait (lost John Lennon and Yoko Ono experimental film; 1969)
Self Portrait is an experimental film by artist Yoko Ono. Premiering at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in 1969, the forty-two-minute film is one single shot of The Beatles singer John Lennon's semi-erect penis. Since its initial screening at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Self-Portrait has not surfaced.
On March 20th, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married to each other after years of dating. Yoko made several films in cooperation with Lennon. One of these films is Self Portrait and was released in 1969, It was a film that showed John Lennon's penis for forty-two Minutes. This proved to be a little bit too unconventional for the audience and the film has not been seen since.
Self-Portrait starts and ends with one long shot of John Lennon's penis as it is semi-erect. In the end, semen comes out John Lennon's penis. John would later state in an interview about the film that semen drop at the end of the film was accidental and that the original idea was for it to rise and fall. Yoko had intended to film the audience and critic reactions to the film which was intended to be part of another variation of the film with the reactions along-side Lennon's penis, however, the equipment that she had failed to record anything. In 2009, renowned film critic Phillip French, who was one of the few people to have seen Self-Portrait would go on to describe his opinion of the film stating:
"One film had the camera simply staring at Lennon’s penis. Lasting some 40 minutes (it seemed like an eternity), it focused upon the unaided tumescence and detumescence of his member, reaching some sort of climax with a pearl-like drop of semen. The film, then jocularly known as "John Lennon’s John Thomas" is actually called Self Portrait. The item listed in Yoko’s filmography as Erection is in fact about John watching a hotel being built. John and Yoko were in the cinema, and during the performance there was a door open to the left of the screen with a sharp red light directed towards the auditorium. No one enquired about this, but it was later revealed Yoko had installed equipment to film the critics’ reaction to John’s comings and goings. The audience was to be one half of a split-screen feature: John showing his all, the critics responding to it frame by frame. Fortunately or unfortunately Yoko’s apparatus recorded nothing. Sighs of relief all around. Otherwise that Film Critics’ Circle might now be part of a permanent installation projected on the wall of Liverpool’s John Lennon International Airport."
As of the writing of this article Self-Portrait has yet to surface. Due to Yoko Ono's perfectionist nature in that she was not able to capture the audience's expression to finish the film, it is most likely to not surface.
- Article where John and Yoko talk about their intended plans for Self-Portrait. Retrieved 26 Jun '20
- Website where Phillip French talks about his opinion of the film. Retrieved 26 Jun '20