“Across the Universe” (2007)

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.

Other reviews: New York Times
Roger Ebert
Entertainment Weekly
Village Voice
Chicago Tribune

Edited to add: I’m hugely excited about Taymor’s current project, especially because of her creative casting of the lead role.

3 Responses to ““Across the Universe” (2007)”

  1. Steph Says:

    I enjoy musicals, but neither I nor my boyfriend got into Across the Universe, unfortunately. I thought the singing was quite lovely, but we made it to the part where Eddy Izzard shows up and then turned it off. Too little story for us, I guess. Even when the plot was moving, we just weren’t engaged. Oh well, such is life!

  2. Amy Says:

    I wish I’d seen it in theaters too. I really liked it. I don’t mind messy if I can accept it as a whole. Baz Luhrmann is a good comparison. Have you seen Australia?

  3. jmfausti Says:

    I enjoyed Across the Universe, Taymor’s vision is always fascinating, although I could really live without that really big hand thing she’s fond of. Have you ever seen her Oedipus? She staged Oedipus as an opera in Japan. The “Greek” chorus was made up of zombie types suffering radiation sickness from, presumably the WWII ending bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.