Across the Universe: A Movie Review
All you need is love. All you need is love. All you need is love, love. Love is all you need. -The Beatles
“All You Need Is Love” was a popular saying in the ’60s anti-war movement. The song was released in the middle of the Summer of Love in 1967 with its initial grounds for empowering and gathering people through a string of words that can be understood by people of all nations. In this turbulent 1960s all the way through early 1970s plotted film, director Julie Taymor stitches history, heart-warming performances, young love and the timely music of The Beatles.
Everybody loves a good musical, especially when songs portrayed are that we know of or are highly praised pieces from iconic bands like The Beatles. But like all musicals, to achieve a great impact on its viewers are relatively difficult. “Across the Universe” is definitely a beautiful story with a cutting-edge visual style to exemplify both a personal love story while in the midst of an overall conflict in the sixties. The film runs on an idea so unique and ambitious that its criticisms have the tendency to overshadow the amount of success it has. Perhaps one element considered here is that the film is influenced by a fixed narrative making its errors too noticeable. And while some songs are faultlessly and creatively executed, one can also observe awkwardly forced pieces and some too predictable.
The film follows a middle classed artist named Jude all the way from Liverpool, England to New York where he hopes to get to know the father he has never met. But that all becomes but a merely minute detail as he later meets Max and Lucy who both represent the wealthy class and the many rebels to the ongoing Vietnam War. Later, colorful characters come joining in the story including a free-spirited singer Sadie, a talented guitarist named JoJo, and a young girl named Prudence. The group lives together and is bounded by their love of music and passion that they can make a difference in their continuous rebellion for the anti- war and the increasing racial crises that cause chaos around them. All of this uproar sends the story to a short climax leading to some very memorable scenes that convey the spirit of the times and the crucial importance of love and understanding playing its part in a world torn apart by political and racial crises.
As mentioned above, the short climax of very memorable scenes are then followed by exhaustingly dragging and somewhat forced numbers that end up disrupting the momentum of beautiful things. In some ways, “Across the Universe” can be easily dubbed as a mess. At times, it lures one to get lost in all its hippie glory and creative visuals. But it does not get away with the fact that it is poorly paced and badly structured. The film calls for provoked critics to an unforgiving review.
Perhaps what saves this film is the perfectly chosen cast and the director’s innovative choreography. We can’t deny their talent and their creative take on the covers of the familiar tunes of The Beatles. Director Julie Taymor, whose damning depiction of the war, and lyrical portrait of young, idealistic love are also both utterly expressive and unique which is breathtakingly beautiful. The remarkable visual styles incorporated to the film is also praised making for ingenious transition from scenes of reality to the pressing scenes of the world as viewed through the eyes of the youths and the lyrics of the songs. Take for example the beautiful performance of the underwater sequences with the graceful ballerinas in the background, anyone could tell how imaginatively endowed the director was by its amount of emotion and creativity poured into it.
Now, I’d like to believe that everyone who loves music recognizes the breadth and greatness of The Beatles. The movie produced really good versions of their songs and did much justice to interpret what seem to be each song’s deep resonances in their familiar refrains. But by the time the credits roll, the film gives off a feeling less powerful than when it began and when we were midway. But to truly process the film and everything in the experience, in my opinion, the flawed film could have gone to greater heights with a good and creative idea as a base. However, taking into consideration its sheer audacity, and its being bold and full of life, you can’t completely hate it. In fact a part of you will want to linger along the lines of some breathtaking tributes to The Beatles and while the narrative occasionally falters, the visuals and set pieces make up for its blunder. I guess to completely fall in love with this film, you need to accept its imperfections; and maybe, all you need is love.