Posted by: Staff | 12.06.2007

Across the Universe is imaginative, but lacks universal appeal

arts-acrosstheuniverse CARRIE WIDMER ‘10

The film Across the Universe is a story of young love in the sixties, narrated by the songs of The Beatles. Jude and Lucy, the two leads, are appropriately named and played well by Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood. (Jude, not coincidentally, comes to the United States from Liverpool, the homeland of the Beatles.) Jude and Lucy meet and fall in love unexpectedly. The film begins with disappointing and unimpressive song and dance numbers. However, just when the audience is ready to abandon the film, Bono makes an appearance singing, “I am the Walrus.” This colorful, psychedelic number depicts the Summer of Love (1967) wonderfully and is a turning point that saves this movie.

Instead of simply telling the predictable love story of boy meets girl, this film tries to illustrate the reality of being young in the sixties. It is an enjoyable twist on the typical love story. Once Lucy becomes heavily involved in the anti-war movement, her relationship with Jude becomes tumultuous. “Revolution” shows Jude’s frustration toward his girlfriend who shows more passion for the Vietnam War than for her boyfriend.

Two of the most fantastic and imaginative pieces in the movie, regard soldiers in the war. “I Want You So Bad” shows an Uncle Sam poster that literally comes to life and grabs the young men who are drafted. “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” another standout performance, shows the suffering of soldiers and the nurses who care for them. Other high points include “Falling,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and the grand finale, “All You Need is Love.” These great numbers stood out in my mind because of their originality—I’d never seen anything quite like them.

Across the Universe has received mixed reviews. Ultimately, it’s a question of taste. This is a film strictly for those who love either over-the-top dance numbers or the Beatles. Otherwise, it would probably be a painful 131 minutes. If you prefer straight plays to musicals, you shouldn’t waste your time. If, however, the Beatles dominate your car’s mix tape, you will never want it to end.

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  1. I appreciate the review, Ms. Widmer, because it painted me a vivid picture of what to expect from this piece of cinema. It seems you did an admirable job describing the tangled web of plot that is “Across the Universe.” Also, what a catchy title…

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