Across the Universe | Teen Ink

Across the Universe

June 26, 2008
By Anonymous

Imagine a handful of correlative music videos with radical graphics and colors combined with a story line, and you pretty much get the movie “Across the Universe”. Reading about this movie, directed by Julie Taymor, it may seem to be just another movie about love and loss. It follows Jude (Jim Sturgess, “21”, “The Other Boleyn Girl”) , a dockworker living in Liverpool with his mom, who travels to America in the 60's in search of his estranged father. His quest brings him to the ivy-colored walls of Princeton, where his father works as a janitor. There he meets Max (Joe Anderson, “Silence Becomes You”, “Becoming Jane”), a student, who decides he will drop out of the distinguished Ivy League School and live in boisterous New York. As Max's confidante, Jude is introduced to Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood, “Running with Scissors”, “Thirteen”), Max's little sister, a typical secluded and guarded high school girl, whose boyfriend dies in the Vietnam War. Everything seems dandy when the three groupies are living in New York, with no cares in the world. That it is, until Max is drafted for the war and sent to Vietnam, prompting Lucy to join anti-war activists, and jeopardizing Lucy's and Jude's otherwise vacuous relationship.

Each momentous event presented throughout the movie, is accompanied with a fitting Beatles song to exemplify the turbulent emotions running- high. The amazing singing and catchy light display, proves for a far more interesting film than those filled with dull conversations. This may not be for movie-going teeny-boppers, hoping to find another High School Musical-like film. However, the audience would typically consist of those wanting to broaden their horizons about music and history intertwined, or those who actually remember the hits and misses of the 60's. Those who do remember may find that it is more-or-less like the hit of the 50's -Grease reintroduced and revamped with 60's knowledge. While I am not one to pass judgment on this film, seeing as how I probably wasn't even a topic of conversation in the 60's, it seems to indirectly portray the themes of the restless young minds at that time.

Even though its categorized as an anti-war movie, it seems to be more of an anti-violence film, showing spews of violence among racism, riots for peace, and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. There is only one reference to the affects of the Vietnam War. After Max returns, Jude says “You don't seem too messed up” and Max replies “Well, everything below the neck works fine”. While others may perceive this as a sexual pun, it's the irrevocable truth of the mental dealings veterans had to suffer through following the Vietnam War. Besides this hint of the infamous mental distortion of the 60's, “Across the Universe” sidetracks viewers not only to the violence in the Vietnam War, but violence among blacks and whites, when racism was still a major contribution to civil unrest.

The anti-violence theme contributed to the most profound character arc throughout the film. In one of the first scenes of the movie, Lucy is attending her high school prom, dancing with her boyfriend. She is shielded from the world's happenings and seems thoroughly content in his arms. Later when her boyfriend is deployed and killed in Vietnam, she finds herself faced with a grief that would be lost on her fellow classmates, and making her grow up faster than her mother anticipated. Instead of staying home, she decides to live in the “treacheries” that is New York. Falling in love again seems to temporarily erase her angst and grief until her brother is drafted. She joins an anti-war group, gets arrested, and in the span of a two-hour movie, transforms herself from a picture-perfect student living in a small town, to a “hell-on-wheels, full-of-love, but-not-afraid-to-speak-her-mind, activist”. The two other main characters remain constant throughout the film. Max, even though he is sent to war, still seems like the “every thing's-great, college-kid-turned-New York-resident optimist” while Jude remains the soulful-introverted artist that he is, living up to his motto, “...surely it's not what you do, but the .... way you do it”

As a whole, this film might prove to be a tad confusing. If you don't seem to know the effects of drugs, and the paramount level they were in the 60's, the colors and more “freakish” parts of the film, may not seem to make sense. When Jude sings “Strawberry Fields Forever”, it is not just a song about strawberries, but blood and war.

“Across the Universe” has a depth larger than those centralized by Hollywood Fame, and wasn't merely a money maker. The theme was not abdicated in the middle of the film, like so many are, but depicted real emotions, turmoils, and lives historically acceptable during a revolutionary time in history.

The bottom line is if symbolism is lost on you and if musicals aren't your thing, this probably wouldn't be the best movie to spend a night watching.
Rating Note: This film contains violence and offensive language that may be unsuitable for some viewers.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.