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Film No. 5 ("Smile") by Yoko Ono, 1968

Cast: John Lennon
Camera: William Wareing
Music: John Lennon
Light/location: Garden
Instruction: Bring your own instrument
51 minutes
Premiere at the Chicago Film Festival 1968

"In Film No. 5 (Smile), Ono used the capacity of film to alter time to create a unique visual portrait. The film consisted of a single shot of John Lennon, in soft focus, standing in a garden. The three minutes of film were then printed with multiple frames to create a running time of 51 minutes. The film recorded subtle and evocative changes in John's facial expression and magnified his gestures and emotions."

Yoko Ono Arias and Objects, Barbara Haskell & John G. Hanhardt, 1991


"One afternoon, John and I went out in the garden and shot Film No. 5, the smile film, and Two Virgins. They were done in a spirit of home movies. I both films, we were mainly concerned about the vibrations the films send out - the kind that was between us. But, with Film No. 5, a lot of planning, working and talking out things had preceded the afternoon. For instance, I had thought of making Film No. 5 into a Dr. Zhivago and let it go on for four hours with an intermission and all that, but later decided to stick to a more commercial length of an hour (approx.). 8 mm. copies of the film are also available for people who'd like to have the film on their wall as a light-portrait Also, we'll store some copies for the next century."

"Imagine a painting that smiles just once in a billion years. John's ghostly smile in Film No. 5 might just communicate in a hundred years' time, or maybe, the way things are rolling, it may communicate much earlier than that."

"Some critic recently commented on us, John and I, as being lollypop artists who are preoccupied with blowing soap-bubbles forever. I thought that was beautiful. There's a lot you can do with blowing soap-bubbles. Maybe the future USA should decide their presidency by having a soap-bubble contest."

Quotes from the essay on Film no. 5 (known as Smile) and Two Virgins by Yoko Ono, October 22nd 1968

Film production photos © Lenono Photo Archive Go back