Laura CliffordLast year, director Julie Taymor (“Titus”) brought 29 Beatle songs to the big screen in a story set in the turbulent ‘60s when America was being torn apart by the tragedy of the ongoing Vietnam War. As the body count mounts the anti-war movement reaches fever pitch – and it is all done in song. Now, the DVD hits the store shelves and includes a host of entertaining extras in the “Across the Universe” 2-disc DVD set.
The story for “Universe” takes the personal relationship between Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) and places it against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the turmoil it caused here in the States. The real draw, however, are the 29 covered Beatle songs that permeate the fabric of the film. The combo of song, choreography, production design, talented cast and deft direction make “Across the Universe” a must for Beatle fans. Plus, to paraphrase the director, you’re watching a musical without realizing you are watching a musical.
Taymor and crew do a remarkable job in making each song an event ranging from psychedelic to the raw reality of the bloodshed of Vietnam and police violence on America’s campuses. Taymor and company use the fabulous 29 songs (selected from over 200 Beatle tunes) to take us on a journey from innocence to the ravages of war. “Across the Universe” is the kind of film that you can put on during a party or while puttering around the house, the music is that good by itself.
The young cast of singers/actors – Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson as Max (whose induction into the US Army is both harrowing and brilliantly staged), Dana Fuchs, sexy as Sadie, Martin Luther as guitar maestro JoJo and the rest – are of terrific voice. They are joined, too, by the star power (and fine performances) of Bono (Dr. Roberts), Joe Cocker and Eddie Izzard (Mr. Kite).
The DVD two-disk set gives us the remarkable movie plus extras: Taymor and composer/musical director Elliot Goldenthal provide commentary and insight about the film, an extended making-of featurette, intros to its rising stars and extended musical performances of some of its many tunes.
I give “Across the Universe” an A- and the DVD B+.
Laura gives "Across the Universe" a B+.
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