I didn’t manage to see Across the Universe in the theater, though I wanted to. It would have been quite something on the big screen. But I enjoyed the 2-disc DVD a lot, in spite of the very mixed reviews when it came out.
Across the Universe is a musical about young lovers in NYC during the Vietnam era with songs of the Beatles as references and dialogue for the movie. The director, Julie Taymor, has a background in puppetry and theater; she created the stage version of The Lion King. I watched and was wowed by her films Titus and Frida, which convinced me along with The Lion King that I’d see anything she did. It might not be great, but even if it were a mess, it would be a spectacular, brilliant, mesmerizing one.
I found Across the Universe kind of messy in parts. Taymor’s vision was sometimes too out there and the movie slowed in the middle. But the talent of the mostly unknown cast, along with the sheer spectacle of the movie combined with oh-so-familiar music that was produced in ways that brought new aspects to it–all of these made me love Across the Universe. I was strongly reminded of the films of Baz Luhrmann. I watched each of the making-of extras, and they gave me an increased appreciation for this flawed but wonderful film. As the choreographer noted, it’s a film that’s surreal yet playful, as well as powerful and poignant.