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Across the Universe
Across the universe (2007 film) poster

A film that truly exemplified how the 1960s changed everything as the young generation breaks away from the old liberalistic routine into a materialistic lifestyle filled with drugs, sex, and freedom from responsibility creating the Flower Power decade of the 1960s. You say we need a Revolution?


A Brief History of the 1960sEdit

The 1960s started a radical movement that extended through the 1970s, 1980s, and beyond altering old views of American society forevermore.
Causes of the Vietnam War08:52

Causes of the Vietnam War

 The 1960s exposed America to inner and outer prejudices. The main idea of the 1960s is how the Peace Movement began.  In the sixties propaganda for an anti-communist movement had abundance across the country.  This is resulted in action for the Peace Corps and the fight for manpower and justice.  Then began the inner racism movement in America following Martin Luther King.  Finally, the whole of the sixties came together through the disruption and division of the country through the Vietnam War.  The three main instigators of the peace movement in the sixties started the revolutionary change of freedom from the conservative norms of society and strove the young people to rebel, forever changing American society.

The Peace Corp passed by John F. Kennedy in 1961 and promoted peace in all nations.  The Peace Corps vowed to promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower (Peace Corps).  This enactment drove the whole movement of peace and love for all, a huge part of the 1960s.


In the homeland, Americans faced inner racism within communities. This conflict began the rise of the anti-prejudice movement to amend the blacks of all previous hostilities.  Martin Luther King Jr. arrived on the scene and fought for the freedom of prejudice for all Americans showing America an unexposed picture of what society truly is like and advocating the necessary need for freem of oppression for all.   


In 1960 the Vietnam War began forever changing the form of nationalism in the United States. Instead of the old regime of war and fighting for the country, love came into the picture and the Hippie Era began.  This movement championed respect for all, belif in all, and view all in an equal setting where every man and woman is treated justly and the fight for peace for the cause.  For the first time in American history, the fight against the own government started.  The entire nation divided.  Some believed that America was called to go to Vietnam and fight for the freedom of the oppressed South part of Korea against the communist North .  However, others believe that this act of diplomacy went to far and America overstepped her boundaries.  The people believe that the burden of the mother country was to heavy and they were carrying America across Vietnam for no apparent reason, they felt like America was there just to be there without a probable purpose, that they were divining into a situation where they were not wanted and were not needed.  It changed America; the movement of peace changed the radical thoughts and ideas of the people creating a divided nation.   Through the Peace Corps movement, the anti-racism movement, and the start of the Vietnam War, the second part of the decade consisted of a rebellious younger part of the nation against the conservative norms.  The younger portion of America began to pull themselves out of the old form of liberalism movement and into a deeper form of materialism.
Cannabis
 The draft created great hostility between younger Americans and Uncle Sam starting a form of rebellion that spread across America like wildfire.  The youth that strove to fight against the Cold War became known as hippies.  

Marijuana and LSD became accepted drugs in society for their usual association with the liberal hippies and a way of release into a new state of mind away from the troubled war times.  Birth control became a new drug, which enacted a sex movement into the era building a stronger foundation for the hippie’s idea of peace and love. The Hippies fought for the liberation of the people and for more freedoms and less burdensome rules.  They strove to fight against Uncle Sam and fight against the draft in a drug, sex, and music revolution creating the sixties.  The sixties were an age to be remembered and began a revolutionary era of flamboyanceand freedom of responsibility, resulting in a new age for young Americans starting with a new voice, the voice of freedom.

The Music Era- The BeatlesEdit

Music was a huge instigator of the changes in the sixties.The British rock scene began with the introductionof the Beatles in the 1960s.  The Beatles were a British rock group coming from the downcast and dreary area of Liverpool, England. The Beatles become the most commercially acceptable and critically acclaimed music group during the decade.  Held by four members John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison , and Ringo Starr the Beatles opened the gateway to popular rock music transforming the decade. 

The group began their career by performing at local clubs in Liverpool but as the fab four grew they exploded into a music group known and worshiped world wide as Beatle-Mania began.  The Beatles offered real music that expressed the feelings people couldn’t always express, it created a cultural phenomenon driven by the similar ideas of the era’s sociocultural revolutions.  The Beatles is a story of a music group that rose from the bottom and made it to the top.  They rose up from the bottom ofLiverpool and morphed into a sensation that swept across the globe.

The Beatles's songs spoke something, something powerful.  They enabled the young people to believe that they had a voice and that they could fight for a change and that they could promote peace and love even through the bomb-clouded madness engulfing the people.  It was a music that was lyrically phenomenal that could relate to the young.  The music was relatable and the band was relatable as they dove into the LSD drug and sex revolution of the decade.  Revolution .  The only word that can simply and wholly explain the purpose and idea of the Beatles
The History of The Beatles07:40

The History of The Beatles

during the 1960s. The started a revolution that infiltrated the minds of the youth giving them hope for peace and love and the desire to fight for it creating a memorable and forever respected and cherished music sensation that still remains a major part of music society today.

In Julie Taymor’ s film Across the Universe she dives into the Beatles top hits during the Vietnam War decade in order to decipher a film spoken through music rather than speech to show and feel the feelings of the War period rather than speaking and saying.  It created a masterpiece pulled from the Beatles top songs and creating a film that not only presented the groups songs in a new way but it showed what the songs actually meant for the time period they were written.  This adaptation revealed the truth and the freedom of hope and the power of love, an underlying theme throughout all of the Beatle’s songs pulled elequently together in Taymor's masterpiece of a film.

Plot SummaryEdit

Across the Universe is a trip that will take one into an alternate state of mind where seeing is not always perceiving but something from within.  The film takes one on a ride through the wild and psychedelic twists and turns of life in the 1960s and even better life of the rebellious and radical people of New York City .  Thwart by many problems along the way, the film develops into a romantic drama that categorizes essential mistakes and lifestyles of people in the 1960s from the new world of drug use to the decay of life in the Vietnam War. Taymor's creation cleverly sets the perspective of the young adults in the 1960s through music produced from the Beatles from 1960-1969 clearly embracing the perspective of all during the era.  It is a film that will take one on a trip through a world that may be unknown but exciting to experience.  



Raised by a single mother, Jude has grown up all his life in the drearyLiverpool, England .  He thirsts for adventure and answers concerning his unknown father in America.  Jude embarks on his greatest journey to find a stranger he has never met and fate aligns when Jude meets Max , a hearty rebel living a life of leisure and carelessness at Princeton University . Max is a free-spirited soul who becomes Jude's guide to America and together the two adults travel to New York City to expand their minds with new lifestyles and experiences.   In New York Jude and Max share a bunker with a wide range of characters.  Sadie , an aspiring singer with a Janis Joplin vibe, JoJo , a Jimi Hendrix soul with a cool aura, and Prudence , a lesbian cheerleader who ran away to find herself.  Together the crew conquers New York and takes the city on like a storm.  But disaster strikes the United States when the Vietnam War begins.  Lucy , Max's beautiful sister, looses her high school sweetheart to the war and after she needs to leave the suburban town and goes off to New York.  Fate strikes, and Lucy and Jude fall in love with one another; two lost souls that somehow combine into one.   However this happy moment of pure bliss in young love is short lived as disaster strikes the group of misfits.  Max gets drafted into the Army and is forced to go to Vietnam.  Lucy and Jude's relationship takes its toll because of this roadblock.  Lucy gets actively involved in resistance groups against the Vietnam War and becomes consumed by the resistances and the fight against the draft and the War.  Jude becomes hurt by Lucy's obsession and withdrawals himself. 

Across the Universe- Opening song - Girl01:40

Across the Universe- Opening song - Girl

Jude takes the role of an artist who is more interested in love and peace rather than causes. In the whole experience of the film the wild group of misfits go on many adventures with one another from casual smoking at Sadie's gigs, to LSD trips that result in crazy adventures with new people, and even trouble with the police.  All in all the film produces a new way of thinking and percieving the problems faced by young adults in the 1960s showing the curtain drawn between what was and is to come for the radical young adults during this crucial era of American history through Julie Taymor's incredible adaptation stating that despite everything "all you need is love , love is all you need." 

A Pivotal SceneEdit

Across the Universe - Helter Skelter05:16

Across the Universe - Helter Skelter

Mise-en-Scene:

The key to this scene is the portrayal of the duality of how America is fighting two wars , the war with Vietnam and the war between us.  The riot at the library shows how student groups are against violence and against the draft and are using their Freedom of Speech to voice their detest towards to forced conform to violence. Jude’s singing Across the Universe reflects the peace and the slight hope that is then Shattered as Sadie’s Helter Skelter enters and shows the truth of the agony and anger of the American people towards the draft and towards the War in Vietnam.  The two songs create a sympathetic atmosphere towards the scene especially where Jude reenters with his lyrics of “nothing’s gonna change my world, nothing’s gonna change my world” but then the scene shows the final shot of the Max looking out at Vietnam and realizing the changes he has been through and that he is fighting and killing and he is shocked by this reality.  Then the song lyrics continue as it shows Jude and Lucy screaming for each other and Jude beat down by the officers and bleeding onto the street. Finally, the lyrics conclude with six naked Vietnamese woman painted completely in blue standing on top of the water, without sinking, floating like leaves and suddenly they all fall at the same time and realize they are falling and silently shout in horror and they are completely submerged in the water. These women represent the innocent taken by war (and a slight casual representation to Yoko Ono )  The scene then shows only two of the six women resurfaced on the water floating with eyes open as if they are dead and surrounding them are the four masks representing their four other companions who are now lost under the wake of all the bitter turmoil. 

Characters:

The scene begins with Jude singing the most thought provoking words from the well acclaimed Beatles song Across the Universe—this is a crucial scene resulting in such a passionate statement it became the key scene of the film giving it it’s title, Across the Universe.  The scene the shows Jude walking down the street towards a disturbance where over the lyrics you hear yelling and shouts of passionate horror.  The shouts then lead to a riot where hundreds upon hundreds of students are shouting and screaming in retort to the draft and raising their voice to fight their right of Freedom of Speech.  The scene then shows another favorite character, Lucy, on top of the student library shouting her own frustration and anger at the draft. Then the police come and begin to push and shove different people down and arrest the leaders of the disturbance for disturbing the peace.  Then it shows Sadie on stage singing Helter Skelter overpowering Jude’s softer and sweeter lyrics of Across the Universe.  Finally Max is shown on the field of battle amidst the destruction of the war thwart jungle of Vietnam.  All three of the major characters, Jude, Lucy, and Max, all experience a change in the scene.  Jude realizes the absence of justice in the war and he finally sees what Lucy is spending all of her time fighting for.  Lucy realizes that she may have gone to far and that she really needed to rely more on Jude to be there fore her and help her through her dismay of having Max sent out to Vietnam.  Max realizes that the war is changing him and his once free and hearty spirit is tainted by the revulsion and the shock of the shattered lives from the war as he stands amidst the bombed area and hears the cries of dying men from war wounds.

Setting:

The setting of the scene is the place of the riot at the Columbia student’s library where the rioters are spread across the steps and the lawn and rooftops shouting their anger and hatred towards the draft and the unfair pool of lives that are drawn at random like a cow for slaughter.  The scene then shifts to Sadie alone on stage singing Helter Skelter, which almost directs the rioters to become even more angered and inspired to fight against the injustice.  Then the scene shifts to Max in Vietnam and the war scene of him fighting for his lives and for the heavy weight and burden of Uncle Sam in the unjust war.  The scene then does a dual shot of the war at home and the war in Vietnam. Then it ends with six Vietnamese women standing atop a water source such as a lake and then falling and rising back up like bodies floating on top of the cool rippled water.

Camera Work:

A significant camera shot is when Sadie is singing Helter Skelter and presents a Bono and U2 type feel with the wind blowing her thick curly hair around as she is presented in a black and white atmosphere where it is black behind her so when she moves the bright white light creeps in.  This shows how through the darkness there is light and through the terror of the war there is the shining beacon of hope and a bright future despite the terror of the clean cut black and white view of the war.  It shows how there are two sides to the war neither good nor bad but solid concrete colors that give no feel, no feel of hope and no feel of despair just completely black and completely white letting the viewer do with it what they will. The overall camera Angle in this scene revolves from the crowded rioters to a shot of a single signifigant character amongst the chaos and looking at their surroundings in shock and fear.

Sounds and Music:

The sounds of the scene begin with the soft and sweet lyrics from Across the Universe and slowly Sadie comes into the scene overpowering Jude’s lyrics from Across the Universe and begins to sing Helter Skelter.  Helter Skelter was originally written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon and was made to be a metallic clang that was as loud and dirty as possible in order to create a metallic roar that would turn heads and make people look and listen to the unjudice.  In the scene this exact reference is personified as Sadie enters screaming the lyrics and shouting the detest towards the situation showing the feeling of the riot and the officers beating the rioters and then switching to the bombs in Vietnam and the terror and change the men go through from pacifist to fighters and killers in a frightening experience that is both sounded through gunshots and bombs to yells and scream that are then reflected on the home front in New York City as the Columbia students riot and fight against the draft and are far from pro-war.  The sounds and music showed the comparison and similarities of the War abroad and the War at home.  At the very end of the scene the lyrics switch back to Jude’s Across the Universe and his lyrics of  “nothing’s gonna change my world” over power the loud and disturbing sounds form Helter Skelter creating a aura of peace and hope through the despair and violence of hoping that through this experiences Jude’s eyes have been opened to the injustice and the changing of his world.  It is a masterpiece of creation that really personifies all the key aspect that is targeted in the film.

Character Analysis

The film itself is concrete proof that Julie Taymor likes to take her ideas to the next level, however, the finer details are what really make her work spectacular.  Through emphasizing her characters, their actions, and  consequences, the director gives each character the breath of life that fully shows who they are and expresses their beliefs.  The film is, overall, the story of Jude and Lucy, the love-struck youth, but she keeps the other major characters on the line of importance during her films.  Each character is significant, and before even viewing the film, you can learn a bit about each of the main characters from their association with a certain Beatles song.  Julie Taymor named each mainstream character after one of the Beatles famous hits, and the lyrics of each of those songs describe the specific character revealing the course of the film at the very fist introduction.


  • Jude
  • Lucy
  • Max
  • Sadie
  • Jojo
  • Prudence

Lucy (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds )

Jude (Hey Jude )

Max (Maxwell's Silver Hammer )

Sadie (Sexy Sadie )

Jojo (Get Back )

Prudence (Dear Prudence )



For example, Lucy is named after the Beatles hit Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.  This song is played at the very end of the film when Jude and Lucy finally come together and resolve their issues and mishaps.  The song itself does not have any direct significance towards the Beatles original meaning relation to LSD, however it does show need and wanting of how Jude finally discovers that he cannot live without Lucy—she is his drug.


Jude is also named after one of the Beatles songs—Hey Jude.  This song is not sung by Jude in the film but is sung by his companions as they urge him to forgive and forget his past and learn to wholly and heartedly love Lucy with all his heart—let the bad out and the good in.  This song is sung towards the end of the film signifying Jude’s revelation and change in his life when he makes the choice to once again leave Liverpool and go back for his destiny—Lucy.


Prudence is named after the song Dear Prudence.  In the film Prudence becomes upset due to her moody tendencies and her lack of feeling accepted for who she really is.  In the film the other characters sing to her behind the closet as if they were coaxing a child telling them to come out and greet the brand new day.  It is a cheery tune that signifies new awakenings and new beginnings despite the troubles of yesterday.     All three examplesshow how all of the characters are named from a specific Beatles song and the specific song somehow relates to the characters life or their internal or external journey.  The song signifies a specific scene they are apart of, a new revelation that is exposed, a purpose of one's true destiny, or the characters overall vibe and aura persona they give off.  The songs collide with the character creating an electrifying new way to envision the character and an exciting sense of knowledge of the infinite possibilities that could course due to the song they are related to.  It was an exciting spin that Taymor persuaded and had great results as far and relation and media components with personality and relationship with the different characters.

Across the universe - All you need is love03:24

Across the universe - All you need is love

RedEdit

The concrete purpose of this film is to signify a journey, to allow the music and the bold and distinct visuals to lighten the senses and take over. The film's plot is either advanced or underlined but is never forced with the Beatles music and lyrics, it just flows creating an atmosphere of illusions and purpose of young adults during crucial and radical changes that take place the 1960s and 1970s decades.  During multiple scenes, an outward presence of color, specifically the color red . Red portrays passion.  Every time red is present, a character is losing the grip on his or her life. Unconsciously it is revealed that the significance of red isn't the destruction it is presumably surrounded by in the film, but the passion and strength of the individual and a new idea of the individual purpose or task in the journey of life. 

Across The Universe - Strawberry Fields Forever03:17

Across The Universe - Strawberry Fields Forever

For example, during the film, the chaos surrounding Jude with Max deployed to Vietnam and his relationship with Lucy are crumbling before his eyes, Jude explores his emotions through his artwork.  To relieve his stress, uses marijuana, and his true feelings of expression are released as he begins his artwork.  In his piece he tacks strawberries, in pristine condition, in individual rows along a blank white canvas. As he tacks the berries, the juice leaks down the snow-white canvas like blood.  In the background there is a television discussing the latest fatalities in Vietnam, and as the War is further discussed, Jude begins to throw the strawberries at the canvas having them splatter and burst covering the pure frame in marred bloody juice.  The scenes then shifts to Max in Vietnam, and the bombs that are dropped on 

the troops are the strawberries splattering on the canvas. It is a crucial moment where the red is exploited in fervor and passion showing Jude's anger and resentment towards his work and his life droned by the burden of the War. It exposes his creativity in a new way with bold effects of the shift between Jude at home covered in strawberry juice from head-to-toe, angry and frustrated, to Max in Vietnam surrounded by wounded soldiers covered in blood and destruction and chaos of war.  It just goes to show that the anger and resentment is not always a resort of red violence but passionate anger and purpose behind the massacre of the two forms of flesh and blood. 

This portrayal of red, in the signifigant scene with Jude in Strawberry Fields, wraps the films theme into one understanding statemnt through color.  Red is the journey.  Some will fall yet some may triumph but either way there will be red.  There will be blood, there will be pain, and there will be loss.  But there will also be passion, love, and fervor.  Despite the good and bad the color red is the foundation in which mankind will take along the pathway of life. It is the beggining and the end, the loss and the life, love and pain, and most of all a passion that pulses through the veins showing the world that people are here, people are living, and red is that wonderful journey of life.  

Works Cited


Across The Universe. Dir. Julie Taymor. Perf. Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2007. DVD.

Cunningham, William P., and Mary Ann Cunningham. Environmental Science: A

Global Concern. Boston, Mass. [u.a.: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2008. Print.

Cunningham, William P., and Mary Ann Cunningham. Environmental Science: A

Global Concern. Boston, Mass. [u.a.: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2008. Print.

EPA. "Superfund Act." United States Enviromental Protection Agency. Environmental

Protection Agency, 2013. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.

History Channel. "The 1960s." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2005. Web. 29

Apr. 2013.

Holden, Stephan. "Across the Universe (2007)." The New York Times 14 Sept. 2007:

n. pag. Print.

IMDb. "Across the Universe." IMDb. Amazon, 2007. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

"Martin Luther King Jr. - Biography". Nobelprize.org. 29 Apr 2013

Rich, Katey. "Across the Universe." Review. Cinema Blend, 2007. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

Rosenberg, Jennifer. "Vietnam War." About.com. About.com 20th Century History,

2007. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

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