The announcement alone of a Beatles spectacle from the director, Julie Taymor, was enough to irritate a wave of purist fans. Taymor is not unfamiliar with the reforming of previous works of art in different mediums. She was responsible for the Broadway adaptation of the Disney cartoon, The Lion King, now adapting a series of Beatles song into a filmed musical which is able to ride on the past success of Moulin Rouge which did the same. Although The Beatles purists may shy away from the young voices altering the songs to make them fit in the musical better, both meaning and tunes, there is no denying that the plentiful selection of songs from this period fit quite well in this simple love story set during the turbulent days of the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
The music really is the most important element in the film, especially towards the end of the film when the plot starts to run thin and song after song fills the ending sequences. The music is also the most creative part of the film, such as the scene in which a lonely lesbian sings “I Wanna Hold your Hand” to her fellow cheerleader as a ballet of football players spiral across the screen in a violent dance of tackles and catches, or a small child singing “Let It Be” amidst a raging riot in Detroit. Although Taymor is an accomplished film director having made several successful films before this, it is the theatrical background that comes into play as the film fluidly moves from music to dialogue as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
In order to ensure all of the best Beatles songs can be recalled at the appropriate moments each of the characters are appropriately named. The story becomes about a group of young people dealing with the changing world around them while they also find love. The love the film focuses on is that of Jude played by newcomer Jim Sturgess and Lucy played by an increasingly appreciated and talented Evan Rachel Wood. Jude moves from the dockyards of Liverpool to
in order to seek out his
father and ends up falling in love with the sister of his new friend, Max (Joe
Anderson). Lucy and Jude are happy but when Max is drafted into the war they
have different views about what should be done in order to stop the war,
causing a separation between them. America
The story is a classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy wins girl back tale. It is the way that this simple story is presented that makes it a unique and fun viewing experience. Using psychedelic photography and bizarre visuals to tell an obvious and symbolic anti-war message of love, Across the Universe easily sweeps you into its spell making the one-dimensional qualities of the film less obvious, or at least easily forgivable. It is a film of spectacle, comforting to watch in the simplicity, and with the inclusion of several fun cameos including U2’s Bono and comedian Eddie Izzard.
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6.5/10