Movie Review:
‘Across the Universe’ enchants
Posted Sept. 28, 2007

Giselle Campbell
Staff Writer

A film that tackles everything from revolution and drug exploration to enlightenment? “Across the Universe” is not your grandparent’s musical.

Set against the backdrop of New York City in the 1960s, this film tells the complex love story of Jude, a young man from Liverpool; Lucy, a girl of American privilege; and their friends.

All of the movie’s action is played out in Beatles songs performed by the cast.

Faced with the draft, social unrest and the anti-war movement, the characters find their once simple love affairs to be challenged to the core during days of turbulent change.

Directed by Julie Taymour (“Frida,” Broadway’s “The Lion King”), the film is visually exciting with vibrant scenes accompanying the music sets.

“Across the Universe” covers numerous events occurring in the time of political upheaval.

The events range from the Detroit riots to the Vietnam War.

This is done quite effectively as the film follows each character on their own journey toward finding each other – and true happiness.

This film is definitely a musical, as there is somewhat of an imbalance between scenes containing song and those of pure plot development.

And as a musical it really is all about the music. Most of the plot line is conveyed through the actor’s songs, which allows for less traditional plot explanation as one scene easily flows into another.

The music of the Beatles does not just affect the story line – the music is the story line.

Each song has been perfectly selected and performed to convey whatever emotion the characters may be feeling.

Happiness, social unrest, despair, fear and most importantly, love. The Beatles had a song for each way of feeling. Above all, the Beatles had a way of evoking those feelings effortlessly.

The Beatles songs in “Across the Universe” are used as a vehicle for the characters to let their stories unfold.

The film begins with the song “Helter Skelter” and then opens up into a scene reflecting the social turbulence of the times.

But the film also covers the themes of love and respect for each other with such endearing and well-known songs as “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “All You Need is Love.”

At the very least, this movie brings back to the forefront just how culturally significant the Beatles really were. Just the fact that this film could be made decades after the Beatles ruled the charts just goes to show their true genius.

The band was talented and versatile. Their lyrics were important; their songs confronted the issues of the time and proclaimed messages that are still pertinent today.

When stories are told through music, there is more heart and emotion involved.
And just as music can affect each person differently, “Across the Universe” leaves more space for individual interpretation than most films do.

While this film is not without its flaws as a complete piece, it carries a message of something much greater.

The Beatles began their British invasion in the 1960s and have made an evident and permanent mark in modern culture.

Their wide-reaching influence on society is now available for a new generation to enjoy and cherish.

“Across the Universe” was released on Sept. 21, and is playing across the nation and locally at the Laemmle Claremont 5 and the Edwards Theater in La Verne.

For ticket information and showtimes, visit

Giselle Campbell can be reached at

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