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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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Across the Universe draws confusion

A group of men in uniform carry a model of the Statue of Liberty through the Vietnamese jungle. They march to The Beatles’ song, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, singing along with the mournful tune in baritone voices. An endless line of new recruits travels down a conveyer belt, expressing the message of the army’s mass effect.

Emphasizing the pointlessness of war and the romantic lives of a young couple, Across the Universe is a new age musical that entwines drama and romance with every Beatles song imaginable.

In the 1960s, a young dockworker named Jude (Jim Sturgess) travels from his hometown of Liverpool, England to America to search for his estranged father. While searching, Jude falls in love with an upper-class girl named Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). However, their romance is cut short when Lucy?s brother is sent to fight in Vietnam.

Joining the antiwar movement, Lucy and Jude begin to protest and the next few scenes depict one of the most controversial decades of the last 50 years.

At Princeton, Jude befriends Max, of course later followed by Jo-Jo the guitarist (Martin Luther McCoy) and Sadie the aspiring rockstar landlady (Dana Fuchs), staying true to Beatles form.

Oddly enough, his father works as a janitor at Princeton and Jude, after a patchy fifteen-minute reunion scene, abandons his cause and his father to move to New York.

Together, the weird couple and Max (after randomly dropping out of college) continue their lives and meet the rest of their friends in New York.

Each scene in the film takes turns telling the story of the expanding group of friends, but also provides dramatic imagery concerning the war. Across the Universe sometimes successfully mixes vision and sound, yet the results are often scattered and don?t pertain to the mood of the moment.

Thickly driven from scene to scene by the music, Across the Universe never really connects to a main point apart from the obvious hatred against the current regime. The rather mundane individual plots ? such as Jo-Jo and Sadie becoming romantically involved and Jude pursuing art ? are punctuated sporadically by the musical scenes that often feel misplaced in the film.

Drawing heavily on the feeling of outrage against the government of that era, the movie drives home the stresses both emotional and physical put on everyone involved with the Vietnam War.

Sturgess and Wood often seem to misunderstand the diction of their script. They rely on the imagery and the heart-wrenching ideas behind the film instead of solid acting.

Across the Universe gives insight into the alternative lifestyles of the characters, but the poorly informed scenes lead to only confusion. Each scene is short-lived and gives only information to prequel the next song.

The animated backgrounds suggest the emotion of each scene, capturing important moments in character’s development. Unspoken words are communicated through music. However, whatever story the filmmakers try to get across is lost among the painted panorama of Beatles music.

Eventually, Jude and Lucy confess their love through one another ? not through speaking, of course, but through singing “Because” during a daydream where the sky melts and they float underwater, redolent of the feel-good era.

Though I found myself lost in artistic translation, Across the Universe remains a potential success among audiences looking for a film reminiscent of Disney’s Fantasia 2000. Though attached to a somewhat abrasive plot and riddled with decidedly average performances,
Across the Universe was nevertheless a visual buffet of enticing scenes which immediately entrances the casual eye.

Across the Universe, rated PG-13 for drug content, sexuality, and some violence, is playing at most local theaters. For show times, visit Fandango.

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