Oscar Win for a Film Inspired by the Music of John Lennon and Yoko Ono

The award was accepted by Sean Ono Lennon, who co-wrote the film.

Brad Booker, Dave Mullins, and Sean Lennon accept the Best Animated Short Film award for War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

On Sunday night, Sean Ono Lennon accepted the Academy Award for Best Animated Short, giving a shoutout to his mother in the process. War Is Over!, inspired by the music of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, is the first Oscar win for the pair’s 49-year-old son. As part of his speech, Ono Lennon led the Awards’s audience in wishing his mother “Happy Mother’s Day, Yoko!”

Of the 11-minute animation’s musical inspiration, producer Brad Booker said: “John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote a song that inspired us that is an anti-war message that we tried to honor.” The protest song “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” was released on the Beatles’s Apple label in 1971 in the U.S. and 1972 in the U.K.


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A post shared by Yoko Ono (@yokoono)

War Is Over! was created in 2022, directed by Dave Mullins and co-written with Sean Ono Lennon, who decided his parents’ song “deserved some kind of piece to help get it out there for another generation.”

The film is set during World War I, and follows as a carrier pigeon carries messages across the battlefield. Two soldiers on opposite sides pass notes via this pigeon to one another, with each note marking their move in their ongoing chess game. The film’s website describes how “neither soldier knows his opponent as the game and the war builds to its climatic final move. Whoever wins the game, one thing is for certain: there are no winners in war.”

The animation was produced by Los Angeles-based studio ElectroLeague, alongside Peter Jackson’s visual effects outing, Weta. According to the filmmakers, the short’s creative aesthetic was based on works by illustrators Norman Rockwell and JC Leyendecker, and borrowed from the style of propaganda posters. “They’ve won Oscar after Oscar for the very beautiful photo-real stuff that they’ve done,” Mullins told the Hollywood Reporter about Weta’s participation in the project. “But for them to take cues from these fairly impressionistic paintings, it was a huge jump.”

War Is Over! Promotional Poster. Image via the War Is Over! Official Website.

War Is Over! Promotional Poster. Image via the War Is Over! Official Website.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono were married for more than a decade until Lennon’s death in 1980. Sean was born in 1975, joining his half-siblings, Julian Lennon and Kyoko Chan Cox. When asked on the red carpet about his dream casting for Sam Mendes’ upcoming four movies about each of the Beatles, Ono Lennon suggested the actress Emma Stone play his father: “She did such a good job in Poor Things and I think if you’re going to reach like that as an actor, the next obvious step is to really go for it.”

The 96th Academy Awards filled Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on Sunday March 10, with big wins going to Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which earned seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor; and Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, which scored four, including Best Actress and Best Costume Design.

Yoko Ono was not in attendance but 2024 has already been a big year for the artist, with a major retrospective of her artwork opening at London’s Tate Modern in February. Ono has previously won multiple Grammy Awards and a Primetime Emmy.

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