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Breathtakinly Beautiful

  • Feb 8, 2008
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"Across the Universe"

Breathtakingly Beautiful

Amos Lassen

"Across the Universe" directed by Julie Taymor is a tribute to The Beatles and it is glorious. It is one of the most visually fascinating movies ever made--it dazzles the eyes and it is full of images that have all been done before but never quite like this. It carried me away and it moved me to tears and I wanted to stand up and yell "MORE". The narrative is fine, the actors are good but the songs and photography are what make this film great.
At times "Across the Universe' seems like a music video as it utilizes thirty-three of the songs of The Beatles and combines them with visual style to give us a personal love story while showing us what America of the 1960's was experiencing socially. The songs are related to the memories that we all have and like Tennessee Williams said in "The Glass Menagerie", memories and music go together. Taymor shows the social conscious of America while using The Beatles' songs as a backdrop and it works beautifully. She manages to show us both the horrors of war and the blossoming of young, idealistic love. Her visions are unique and painful and literally caused me to gasp at times. It is hard not to fall in love with this movie.
The movie starts with a reinvention of the great Hollywood films of the 1950's and steadily works its way to psychedelic hysteria. The rich cinematography is varied by theme and song and the dance sequences are vibrant. We see the innocence of small town America and the hippy scene of Greenwich Village as well as a Garden of Eden that is hallucinatory. We get romance as well as the horrors and violence of war all presented to us with a constancy of Beatles' songs.
Hearing and seeing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" sung as a ballad reinvents the song and this is true of many of the other songs.
There also seems to be a darker political vision here and that is that audiences of today should be as angry as we were in the 60's--we should be protesting and marching and standing up to the Bush administration with its arrogance and corruption and their war that has cost a trillion dollars. What happened in the 60's is mirrored by the happenings of today but we do nothing.
The characters are endearing even though they are unknowns and they turn in admirable performances. However, this is a visual movie that must be seen and appreciated. Not only is it a look backwards, it can also become a rallying cry for change.

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More Across the Universe (Two-Disc ... reviews
review by . April 26, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Julie Taymor once again uses her considerable innovative magic to create a film that not only is mesmerizingly beautiful to watch, but also a 'semi-documentary' about the world changes that occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s as young people for the first time spoke out against the war in Vietnam, the death of Martin Luther King, and the senseless mayhem that extended from the battlefields of Vietnam to the streets of America, all set to the significant, timely music of the Beatles. It sounds …
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Amos Lassen ()
Ranked #210
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities.   I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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About this movie


Set in America during the Vietnam War,Across the Universeis a powerful love story set against a backdrop of political and social unrest: it's a story of soul-searching, self-doubt, and individual powerlessness cleverly conveyed through a multitude ofBeatlessongs. Like young adults all across America during the 1960's, Jude (Jim Sturgess), Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), Max (Joe Anderson), Sadie (Dana Fuchs), Prudence (T.V. Carpio), and JoJo (Martin Luther) are in turmoil over the war; questioning their individual roles in the war effort and struggling to find a way to hold true to their beliefs while making a difference in the world. While love proves a powerful uniting force, its limitations become clear as relationships are strained and broken over individual perceptions of responsibility to cause and country. A fairly bizarre juxtaposition of extremely stylized, almost hallucinogenic scenes of swirling colors and reflections, highly choreographed dance segments, seemingly commonplace character interaction, and emotionally packed close-up footage of characters lost in contemplative song, this film imparts a good sense of the confusion and passion of the time and is at once powerful, invigorating, and disturbing. The film runs a bit long at 2-hours 11-minutes and several segments drag noticeably thanks to some incredibly slow song tempos. Warning: this production may change how you think about a favoriteBeatlessong forever.--Tami Horiuchi


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DVD Release Date: February 5, 2008
Runtime: 133 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures

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