Across the Universe Reviews
One thing that came to mind while watching this was the jukebox musical 'Moulin Rouge!'. In a way, both films are the same in terms of structure, how everything is set up, and the extremes it treats it's music. Only difference here is that all of the songs are by the same artist and there is a somber tone from beginning to end. Yes, the main plot and story is one we have all heard countless times (two youths from different backgrounds falling in love while fighting a cause), but then again, what do you expect? With the plot in mind, it does fit to use The Beatles as the main back drop simply because The Beatles were all about peace, love, and freedom among people in nations corrupted by hatred.
The main surprise for me, while watching this film, was the interpretation of The Beatles's music and how they are presented. There is something funny about art: no two people will have the same opinion of a piece of music. To some, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony tell the story of a great war while to someone else they believe it tells of death, destruction, and hatred. Same with The Beatles. For the most part, this film did not show how I imagined the songs to represent, but that was what was so interesting about this film: you get a new perspective on almost an entire separate genre of music and, in doing so, the songs build a new meaning.
Another shock was how talented and random the cast is. Among the main people we are with, my personal favorites include angelic Lucy (Evan Rachel Woods), Sadie (Dana Fuchs), and Jo-Jo (Martin Luther McCoy). The main reason is due to how they represent their songs and the power of their talent. But when you throw in random people in like Bono from U2 and Eddie Izzard (in my personal favorite scene in the entire film), what you are left with is one cast that is abnormal, odd, but so fun to watch.
Rethinking about this film, this is a musical that goes perfectly with the sub-genre of musicals I have given a name to called 'The Bohemian Musical'. Basically, the plot is simple: random people meet up, they start fighting for a cause, and it ends either in tragedy or in a very bitter sweet format. Musicals that come to mind include the formally mentioned Moulin Rouge! and Rent. But with 'Across The Universe', it takes this structure in a way that is new, fresh, and beyond fun to watch.
Okay, to get this out of the way: this is a Beatles musical that is perfect for those that want to know about why The Beatles were so good, the impact it has left, and a sample of the timelessness of the music that was made over the period of eight years by four young men from Liverpool. Now, as a Beatles fan, I adore this film. As a film fan, this is a flawed film at times. But, the flaws this film does have (like the slow pacing, kind of wooden characters, cliches) can be excused by how gorgeous this film is.
Essentialyl it's the story of a Brit named Jude who comes to the States, becoems friends with a guy named Max, and falls in love with his suster, all the while experienceing many of the highs and lows that went on such as VIetnam, war protests, the counterculture, and what not.
Ordinarily the story wouldn't be that impressive, as a musical or not, but the way this film is done, mostly thanks to Julie Taymor's brilliant visionary directing (some incredible artsy sequences) and some great renditions of classic Beatles tunes (complete with many injokes and references throughout in general) make this truly something special.
You don't HAVE to be a Beatles fan to enjoy this, but it would certainly help. As long as you can appreciate the music and the time period, and don't mind lots of musical numbers (some of them very trippy and surreal), you should be fine.
If you don't appreciate the music and art, then you're watching the wrong film.
A little long though...
Had me entertained throughout though.
AC rating: Commentary was with the director and composer and it's amazing to see how the film came from concept to execution especially with basically a bunch of no name actors. Loved it.
Wow, that first paragraph made it sound like I didn't like this movie. Not the case. I liked it a lot, and its interpretation of so many Beatles songs to tell a simple love-in-the-time-of-Vietnam story is an amazing feat in and of itself. Though it fell when it tried to do too much, it soared in other places when the music matched the moment. Jim Sturgess is an excellent up-and-coming talent (and Evan Rachel Wood holds her own) in this highly enjoyable and by times riveting musical drama. The shots are inventive and the textbook story is better for it. A very good film that was almost great.