The music of The Beatles and the Vietnam War form the backdrop for the romance between an upper-class American girl and a poor Liverpudlian artist.The music of The Beatles and the Vietnam War form the backdrop for the romance between an upper-class American girl and a poor Liverpudlian artist.The music of The Beatles and the Vietnam War form the backdrop for the romance between an upper-class American girl and a poor Liverpudlian artist.
Julie Taymor has always been a very visual director, since Titus, I praised her as a director with extremely rich visual ideas, and compared her to the likes of Baz Luhrmann, which is funny now, cause when the film started, I realize Julie Taymor had a very similar intention with Across the Universe, to that of Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!, however, I'm of the opinion that Luhrmann was modestly effective, while Taymor hits the nail with absolute precision and perfection.
Even though I was a Musical Lover Freak, that I'll admit to, I had a hard time accepting Moulin Rouge!, I enjoyed it visually, as well as the performances, but I don't know, I was sort of a put off with the messy use of music, which really distracted me from the movie, which was supposed to take place in Pre WW1 Paris, but felt like some weird, annoying place, a musical version of a bad Three Stooges Episode, which I know sounds a little too tough on the film, but that's what I though. It was off putting seeing such a comedic portrayal of Toulouse Lautrec, pretending to co-write the score of The Sound of Music with a clumsy 21st Century version of Michael York, only in 1900s Paris.
I'm dwelling over Moulin Rouge! a little too much, I know, but it's just that people have complained in a similar way about this particular film. Beatles fans are put off by the almost exclusive use of Beatles songs in the soundtrack. I'm not a die hard Beatles fan, but I certainly like them, as pretty much most people, and I though that Julie Taymor's concept was amazing. Across the Universe is a Roseate Stone of the 60s, and because it is from the 60s, takes place in the 60s, and is all about the 60s, the Beatles soundtrack is a match made in heaven. The opening scene, is a perfect example of just how effective the use of the Beatles was, the comparison of late 50s, early 60s Americana Life Style, with a very industrial and rough Liverpool Life Style, from there on, the movie becomes a fantastic musical in all the classical sense, it's so classic that the film could be easily translated to Broadway.
People have said the most inane things like "the film has no plot"...no plot? Are you kidding me, the film not only has a wonderful array of characters that not only represent some of the most iconic figures of music in the 60s, but all of those characters are explored, developed, some to a larger extent than others, just like any movie, and on top of that, most of the characters are resonant in today's society with today's socio-political situation.
That is the other interesting element of the film, not only is it a good story, but it is also a politically conscious movie with extremely poignant images about the 60s and today. Not only does it have poignant images, but also, most of the songs have highly imaginative numbers, that are very technically proficient, in the classic sprawling Broadway musical tradition. And regarding the visual and special effects, I think Taymor was a bit gratuitous with the effects back in Frida, but here, they are all in service of the plot, even if some of the scenes seem like scenes that would go great with a little LSD, they are all used for the effect of creating that 60s feel and look in which the movie moves about with a delicious comedic overtone.
All of these praises go to the master behind the film, Julie Taymor, she deserves more credit than what she has been getting, the incredibly imaginative and exciting musical sequences are excellent. Who cares if it's music from the Beatles, the Beatles are pretty much the official soundtrack of the 60s, and it's not like the film is just a big bloated Beatles tribute, it's a tribute to the decade, and the whole music scene of the decade, aside from the numerous Beatles references, there are references to Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Morrison.
I wanted to focus my review on Julie Taymor's work, but, the whole film is amazing, the cinematography, the production design , Albert Wolsky proves he is still champ of the musical genre. And the cast, aside from Evan Rachel Wood, most of them are young, fresh faces, which works wonders, since you are not ever wondering about who dubbed that song, you take all the stuff in, without having second thoughts or reservations.
I recommend you see the film, it's great, and if you have a beef about it using Beatles music, well, I only have one thing to say, DEAL WITH IT, it's not like the film is abusing the Beatles legacy, if anything, it's giving it a standing ovation, and it's fitting for the period, and the tone of the picture, so...that's pretty much it, just..."let it be, let it be, let it be".
- Mar 13, 2008