Across The Universe is a fictional love story set in the 1960s amid the turbulent years of anti-war protest, the struggle for free speech and civil rights, mind exploration and rock and roll. At once gritty, whimsical and highly theatrical, the story moves from high schools and universities in Massachusetts, Princeton and Ohio to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Detroit riots, Vietnam and the dockyards of Liverpool. A combination of live action and animation, the film is paired with many songs by The Beatles that defined the time.Written by
The following items are a list of references to songs by The Beatles:
The title of the movie, and many of the characters are named after various songs: Lucy, Jude, Max (Maxwell) Sadie, Mr. Kite, Dr. Robert, Prudence, JoJo, Rita.
"Helter Skelter" is heard in the pre-title montage, and is also a reference to the scattered method that the scenes are shown.
"Doctor Robert": When Jude, Lucy, and Max are at the party for Doctor Robert (portrayed by Bono) they are seen drinking from a bowl of unknown liquid. This is a reference to the lyric, "Take a drink from his special cup, Doctor Robert."
"Get Back": A voice is heard yelling "Get Back!" when Sadie leaves the stage during "Oh! Darling".
"Strawberry Fields Forever": During the Thanksgiving dinner scene, Lucy's and Max's grandmother remarks that "the cranberry sauce isn't as tangy as last year," referencing the use of the words "cranberry sauce" uttered by John (which was often misheard as "I buried Paul," adding to the myth that Paul was dead.)
"Maxwell's Silver Hammer": At college, Max generally goofs off and causes trouble. This is a reference to the song lyric, "Back in school again/Maxwell plays the fool again." Also, when Max and Jude first meet Sadie, she says they seem harmless, then looks at Max and says, "Then again, you coulda murdered your granny with a hammer." Max is later seen "fixing" a fan with a hammer.
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da": The name Molly (Jude's Liverpool girlfriend) alludes to Molly in the song.
"The Word": When discussing Dr. Robert's bus Sadie's manager says "Spread the word".
"A Day In The Life": When Jeff Beck's instrumental cover of "A Day In The Life" plays, Jude is reading a newspaper - a reference to the lyric, "I read the news today, oh boy."
"I Want You": The famous Uncle Sam recruitment poster is animated to illustrate the song.
"Martha My Dear": Jude's mother's name is Martha.
"Lovely Rita": Prudence's friend's name is Rita.
"Sexy Sadie": Though the character of Sadie is a reference to Janis Joplin, it is also a reference to this song.
"Get Back": While JoJo's character is a reference to Jimi Hendrix, it is also a reference to "Get Back" (particularly the first line "JoJo was a man who thought he was a loner/But he knew it wouldn't last.")
"Revolution 9": The number of the building where the rooftop concert takes place is #9.Also when Lucy is trapped in the phone booth,and the glass is shattered there is a pattern in the shape of the number 9 in the cracks,
"Hello Goodbye": After Prudence enters through the bathroom window, Jude greets her saying "Hello, hello" which can be seen as a reference to "Hello Goodbye" (which was called Hello Hello by McCartney while he was writing it).
"She Came In Through the Bathroom Window": When Prudence first enters the apartment through the window, Jude comments "She came in through the bathroom window."
"When I'm Sixty-Four": The shipyard employee that gives Jude his paycheck says he thought he'd be doing something different when he was sixty-four.
Just prior to the song "Dear Prudence", Max is holding a box of "Cap'n Crunch" cereal with a modern design. See more »
Is there anybody going to listen to my story all about the girl who came to stay? She's the kind of girl you want so much, it makes you sorry. Still, you don't regret a single day. Aw, girl. Girl...
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I saw a sold-out opening night screening of "Across the Universe" last night with a group of my friends who had really been looking forward to it. Many of them were extremely disappointed, while in the critical world, Roger Ebert and the New York Times loved it. Because the film was so highly anticipated, and a number of people have asked me how I liked it, I'm writing this review in an attempt to express why the movie is so divisive. I'm not going to talk about plot, or describe any of the numbers. If you're interested in seeing the movie, they'll be more enjoyable if they're unexpected.
It's a bizarre and beautiful movie musical, almost a music video at times, that uses thirty- three of The Beatles' songs and director Julie Taymor's unique visual style to illustrate both a personal love story and the overall conflict in the sixties. The movie is incredibly original and ambitious, and therefore its failings are as dramatic as its successes. Both stem from the same source: Julie Taymor's self-indulgence. That's nothing new to her movies, "Frida" and "Titus" have the same problem, but in a movie stripped of traditional narrative, it's glaringly obvious. Some songs are impeccably chosen and staged with great creativity, but others are too obvious, or thematically forced so Taymor can cram in another song and stunning visual sequence.
For the first half of the movie, I was frequently divided. One innovative sequence would really pull me into the style, then a forced number or awkward staging would distance me again. When an obvious, recognizable number began, I was torn between a cynical impulse to roll my eyes and an almost exhilarated impulse to laugh and applaud.
"Across the Universe" is a mess. There's no denying that. It is poorly paced and badly structured, and at times its feather-light plot and contrived or obligatory numbers become tedious. But at one point, about halfway through, I decided just to go along for the ride. I delighted in every brash, bold choice, whether it worked or not. I let the poignant moments move me, whether or not I intellectually felt that they were contrived.
The Beatles' music had a huge effect on me; from the fateful day that my friend accidentally copied the first three tracks of "Revolver" onto my computer, a love affair was born. Their songs are inexorably tied to memories beautiful and horrible scattered all over my life, and as I grow older, I'm constantly discovering new, deeper resonances in their familiar refrains. Even when the context was vague or stretched, the film's reinterpreting and revealing new facets of these songs seemed to serve as a tribute to their breadth and greatness. Taymor's damning depiction of the horrors of war, and lyrical portrait of young, idealistic love are both painfully expressive and unique, and simply took my breath away. By the film's shamelessly corny close, I realized that I had just had a genuine cinematic experience. For all the movies that I watch, that's incredibly rare.
In his review in the New York Times, Stephen Holden writes, "I realized that falling in love with a movie is like falling in love with another person. Imperfections, however glaring, become endearing quirks once you've tumbled." I could laughingly list this movie's flaws from now till next week, but I sort of fell in love with its sheer audacity. You might not. It's extremely naïve, and thematically simple, and you could find that endearing or irritating. You may love it, or you may hate it, but you're going to feel something. This movie will not change your life; don't expect it to. But if you let your criticism fade to the background, and abandon yourself to Taymor's passionate fervor, you may have a pretty amazing experience.
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