I could never imagine that a film using songs by the Beatles sung by anyone but the Beatles would have an impact on screen, but there you have it! Julie Taymor pulls it off in Across the Universe
. The songs take us through a story of a Liverpool dockworker named Jude played by Jim Sturgess who goes to America to find his biological father at Princeton, a custodian, married with a family. There he meets Max, (Joe Anderson) a young happy go lucky student and notorious prankster. The two men hit it off and Jude is invited home to the family for Thanksgiving Dinner.
There Jude lays eyes on Maxís sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) and the buds of romance begin. When Max drops out of Princeton, he and Jude move to NY and become flatmates with Sadie, (Dana Fuchs) a soulful vocalist. When Lucyís first boyfriend is killed in the Vietnam War, she later joins Max and Jude in NY.
The story of Across the Universe
is told through cleverly orchestrated musical numbers. It has the feel of Hair
, especially with the time period, but Taymorís theatrical design and invigorating screen space give the film a more visual character than narrative. It is more on the order of the rock opera Ken Russellís Tommy
and some of the scenes invoke his legendary and skillful artifice. Lucy and Jude soon become an item, but not for long as she throws herself into the anti war campaign after waiting tables all day. Jude is an artist without a green card and with more time on his hands so the relationship becomes problematic. Lucyís reasons for antiwar passion are real and immediate for she lost her first love to war and Max has been drafted. There are some great cameos by Bono, Joe Cocker and Eddie Izzard, as we go through the nostalgic of the 60ís its well known momentum, of anti war protest, psychedelic drugs, free love and the hippie culture. It takes some getting used to accepting these young actors singing Beatles songs, but there seems to be a song for every twist and turn of the saga. "Hey Jude" certainly needs no explanation with the lead character, "Dear Prudence" also works because a young woman with the name (played by TV Carpio) seeks refuge in Sadieís apartment. Of course the 60ís has a dramatic life of its own without music. The pendulum is busy swinging between Thanatos, with the Vietnam War and the assassination of King and Kennedy, and Eros, love, as the Beatles song so aptly puts it: "All you Need is Love2. This is one thing our antiwar era today certainly does not seem to have in spades. So sit back and experience a visually stunning musical odyssey in Julie Taymorís Across the Universe
For Movie Magazine , this is Moira Sullivan, Stockholm SWEDEN
© 2008 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 3/2008
Across the Universe