Movie Review: ‘Across The Universe’

Robyn Castro, Assistant Photo Editor

“Across the Universe” is a film about love, anti-war activism, self-discovery, psychedelic drug culture, free speech, sexuality and the civil rights movement, themes which are all beautifully choreographed into a Beatles musical. Director Julie Taymor knew that creating a musical based off songs solely by The Beatles would be a challenge. Using 33 of their songs and minimal dialogue, Taymor created a masterpiece that can influence viewers in both a personal and generational way. 

The film follows three young adults in the 1960s whose fictional lives coincide with real events. Jude, played by actor Jim Sturgess, leaves his home in Liverpool to finally meet his father, who lives in America. While there, he meets a lively Princeton student named Max, played by actor Joe Anderson, and the two quickly become friends. Jude eventually meets Lucy, Max’s younger sister, who is played by actress Evan Rachel Wood, and together they create a romantic connection. The three journey to New York City and meet a handful of characters who each face personal challenges. 

There are moments in the film where it feels like a trippy, extended music video. At one point, Bono — yes, Bono — sings “I am the Walrus” while the people around him slowly slip into a psychedelic state. In the middle of the movie, Max is drafted into the Vietnam War. The film depicts men carrying Lady Liberty on their back while singing “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” to symbolize the cost of freedom. In a veterans hospital, Salma Hayek is the nurse who administers morphine while the men in bed sing “Happiness Is A War Gun.” 

Although Taymor never intended it, this film has potential influence on millennial activism and comments on social issues still relevant in today’s society. In the 21st century, we’ve seen the Iraq War, the Black Lives Matter movement, the gay rights movement, and so many more events similar to ones that occurred in the 1960s that have influnced our youth’s actions.  We have seen young people march America’s streets demanding change from those in power, which is similar to several scenes in the film. 

No matter what message you choose to take away from “Across the Universe,” the film is bound to have a powerful impact, and perhaps, by the end of the film, you’ll begin to believe that all you really need is love.