I very rarely buy movies – I’ll watch ’em once and forget about them for years. But I’ve been trying to get over Across the Universe for about six months now. I don’t know what it is – and I won’t bother to try and put it into words, I strongly recommend experiencing it for yourself.
On a very basic level, it’s a musical with a storyline inspired by 34 Beatles songs. But, despite my admitted love of the Beatles, this movie’s quality comes from its organic, original aspects. It uses the 1960s as a backdrop, but does not strive to authentically recreate the decade. Instead, Across the Universe takes events of the past to reach out to the viewer of the present, whoever they may be and whatever experiences they have to relate with the movie.
Historically, it touches on everything without painting the sixties in a partisan perspective. The movie addresses the highs and lows: race riots, generational struggles for identity, the concept of true love, the concept of “free” love, the pains of war, the hypocritical radicalism in resistance of war… It is a piece on everyone’s experience during such a transformational era.
In a personal regard, Across the Universe makes me react with a sudden urge to explore my own life, passions, and perspectives. Watching a movie that starts with the uncomfortable question of “What defines a person: who you are, what you do, or how you do it?”, then follows several characters with differing passions try to coexist and keep their differences from clashing with each other, and then finally throws all distraction aside, proclaming, “All you need is love” gives me a kind of reality check. I have to wonder if what I’m doing today is the right thing to get me where I want to be – and much more importantly, if what I’m doing today is helping me love others on a very personal level.
It’s also a very different movie than most contemporary American cinema today- it’s not a linear story that strictly follows the “establishment-rising action-climax-falling action-resolution” formula. Most of the actors are unknown to the world at large, making the film even more personal and less about watching established stars in the same old roles.
So give it a shot- I don’t want to say “this is a great movie because it’s entertaining to watch,” or that I agreed with its overall message or anything. I like it so much because of the reactions and introspection that it triggers.