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Across the Universe, a film from 2007, tells a story in songs by The Beatles. I was skeptical at first. I don’t always like covers of popular songs. I often hear the echo of the original underneath, and wish the cover would get out of the way so I could hear the famous version better. But that didn’t happen in these covers. I think it was because I was quickly invested in the characters. The songs were so well woven into the story that I wanted the characters’ expressions of them to move the plot along.
Jim Sturgess plays Jude, a young ship builder from Liverpool who signs on to a crew of a ship. There are fun Beatles references even when the songs aren’t included — Jude’s mother wishes that he’d joined the crew of the Mersey Ferry if he wanted to go to sea so, at least, he’d be home for supper every night. Jude jumps ship in America to start a new adventure that involves family, friends, and the raucous intensity of being 20-something during the late 1960s.
Of course, there’s a romance. The girl’s name is Lucy. Played by Evan Rachel Wood, her songs are often quiet and sad.
There are lots of other terrific characters and singers, too. T.V. Carpio has a gorgeous voice for the character of Prudence, perfect for “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Bono has a cameo as “Doctor Robert” in a suitably weird and wonderful sequence involving a psychedelic bus and psychedelic drugs. Timothy T. Mitchum broke my heart singing “Let it Be.”
We really enjoyed this one! I recommend it for music lovers, hippie wannabes, and film buffs who enjoy creative storytelling.