Across the Universe is out of this world, or universe

By Tatiana Craine

Across the Universe, Julie Taymor’s latest project, hurtles moviegoers through a psychedelic time-warp to the turmoil and wonder of the 1960s. With Beatles songs peppered throughout the film, Taymor is able to capture sundry emotions and events in one entrancing story. At the start of the movie, Taymor’s liberty with the Fab-Four’s work perfectly links a pristinely innocent sock-hop to a grungy, Liverpuddlian club with the sole use of a song; and it doesn’t end there.The film is a montage of the most prominent Beatles songs melded into a tale that seizes the heart and mind. More than a love story, “Universe” follows an unlikely cluster of friends who have to deal with love and war on both sides of the Pacific. The bullet-scarred battlefields of Vietnam are taking their fair share of lives while the streets of Detroit are playing at the same game. Whether they should “Let it Be” or let chaos control their lives, the protagonists struggle to maintain a sense of peace.

Jude, a young Liverpudlian, finds himself in the United States in pursuit of his father. Good fortune on Princeton University’s campus leads to friendship between Jude and college-student, Max. They make their way to New York in search of freedom and meet an assortment of characters cleverly named with Beatles song monikers like Sadie, Jojo, and Dr. Robert. Max’s sister, Lucy, ventures to New York to escape tragedy at home and falls for Jude. Romance blossoms just as things start to go awry; draft notices are mailed, protests become radical, and tensions are heightened. Another “Helter Skelter” escape is the only option, and a trip (yes, pun intended) in Dr. Robert’s bus to a kaleidoscopic circus is the group’s plan. After playtime is over, and the crew is forced to deal with reality “With a Little Help from [Their] Friends.”

“Across the Universe” calls to mind the musical “Hair;” Taymor brings the vibrancy, life, and reality of the Broadway musical to the silver-screen with an elegance that the Hair movie could not. Excellent acting, singing, and dancing make this movie a triple-threat. Appearances by Bono, Eddie Izzard, and Salma Hayek compliment the performances by main characters. The cinematography gives perspective on the story not only by capturing the sweet, eye-candy-like visual effects, but also by helping audiences take a gander at the character’s souls. At a few points, the “Universe’s” kitsch-factor is overwhelming, but the film redeems itself time and time again.

In the end, “Universe” is more than the typical boy-meets-girl musical. The film brings home the urgency of parallel domestic and foreign issues from the 1960s and today. Walking out of the theater, audiences will be stunned by “Across the Universe’s” beauty; “It Won’t be Long” before they realize “All You Need Is Love.