“Across the Universe” is a musical film based on 34 compositions by the legendary rock’n’roll quartet – the Beatles. The movie is called after the same name song of the band, “Across the Universe”, which was released in 1969 and later as one of tracks of a charity album “No One is Going to Change Our World” at the label “Apple”. The plot has nothing to do with the Beatles’ members life. However the pictured in the movie events represent many characteristics of their era being set in the 60’s and revolve around the songs which match up a lot of great scenes.
All main characters bear the names derived from its original lyrics: dwarfed in life Lucy (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), ambitious Jude (“Hey Jude”), an amateur singer Sadie (“Sexy Sadie”), a good-for-nothing Max (“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”), Prudence (“Dear Prudence”) etc. The first 45 minutes is hyper and let us meet the characters. It doesn’t really rely on plot, like most musicals, it relies more on character development. Jude moves to the USA in purpose to find his father. On arrival he accidentally meets Max who becomes his friend in a short time.
Together the boys go to New York where they are joined by Max’s sister Lucy (she has just lost her boyfriend killed on the battlefield). They quickly find out that the dream of living independently and enjoying their lives as an adults has its own difficulties. The second act is different: Vietnam War, psychedelic trips caused by taking LSD, free love flavoured with rock’n’roll – that is the very scenery of the romantic and at the same time tragic storyline. In the third act we actually get to see the characters solve their problems, it deals a lot more with our feelings towards music and war.
Across the Universe” is actually much different from most musicals. Where most musicals rely on either joy, emotion, or war, it relies on all three. There are some moments where you actually feel like you want to get up and dance. The music here is absolutely amazing. No seriously. It’s amazing. The cast members (and read how I say cast members and not vocalists) sang all of these songs and did such a great job that if I even had a choice, I would actually had to say that some of their versions of songs were better than the actual Beatles.
Speaking about the strongest moments I would distinguish one perfect example of telling a story through the song that has profound significance to me and too intense for words – the scene where Jude paints a tore and nailed to the canvas bleeding strawberry during “Strawberry Fields Forever” being sang. The berry as a symbol of love, streams of blood as a symbol of war and death, flashing faces of the characters in the background and paint-made blood all over the screen – it’s all in red, the color of lust and destruction.
While watching the movie I felt different emotions: laughter, happiness, excitement but also sadness, fear and anger. What I’ve got from “Across the Universe” is more than a film, it is an experience in itself. It could be any kind of experience — a fun and very different experience, or a deeply emotional and sensual experience. For me, it was more of the second. When “Hey Jude” played near end of the movie I had run out of tears. It felt like I knew all the characters forever but when the two hours and ten minutes were over I was dying to see more. I am actually planning on seeing this again and again.