Perhaps our generation can never truly understand the significance of freedom as much as the previous generation, which had to fight for it. Perhaps we can never truly understand war as much as the youth who were conscripted in armies to fight for causes they didn’t even understand. Perhaps counterculture can never mean as much to us as it did to the band of young revolutionaries who defied norms, mores and conventions, and gave rise to it.
And these are just a few of the several reasons why 2007’s Julie Taymor musical, Across The Universe, is an important watch. The other reasons – and there are MANY – include a young romance set in the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the rise of the psychedelic movement, a glorious ode to The Beatles with the best EVER cover soundtrack featuring 34 songs by the band, a cameo by Bono, and of course, Evan Rachel Wood (*sigh*).
The movie, a major portion of which is told through fantastic cover versions of Beatles’ classics such as ‘All my loving’, ‘I want to hold your hand’, ‘With a little help from my friends’, ‘Strawberry fields forever’ and ‘Hey Jude’, is essentially about the love story of ‘Jude’ and ‘Lucy’ (don’t you love it already?). Jude (Jim Sturgess), who belongs to a modest background in Liverpool, travels to New Jersey to look for his father. In a new country where dreams come true, Jude befriends ‘Max’ (Joe Anderson) and ends up falling in love with Max’s sister, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood).
When Max is conscripted for the Vietnam War, Lucy joins the anti-war movement, and this causes a drift between Jude and her, in the lead up to the climax of both the revolution as well as their romance. In the midst of all this, there’s also the story of a band of musicians (‘Sadie’, ‘Prudence’ and ‘JoJo’) all trying to find their place in the days of rebellion.
While self-righteous critics have pointed out the lack of a plot in the movie, the movie symbolically achieves what its remarkable screenplay conveys through dazzling visuals and iconic music – a counterculture phenomenon. So you don’t really need a reason to watch this movie… all you need is love.
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther, TV Carpio
Written By: Julie Taymor, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
Directed By: Julie Taymor
Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, August 2011 issue
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