Thursday, 25 September 2008

Across the Universe

I'd never heard of this movie (clearly don't get out enough) and only bought it on spec. We watched it last night and were completely blown away. Like Mamma Mia it is a love story woven round the music of one group, but it was in an altogether different league.

The cinematography, choreography, and sets were stunning, and the cast could actually sing. The plot and characterisation may be a spare - it is, after all, a musical - and the songs were sometimes crudely stitched in, but the political and cultural backdrop of the Sixties and the sensitively set Beatles' music gave it a gravitas which made MM look like a package holiday. This was 'Moulin Rouge' to Mamma Mia's 'Una Paloma Blanca'

Although the locations flit between Liverpool, Greenwich Village, Detroit and Vietnam, this was a British film through and through, from the Karl Ferris style false-colour palette, through the Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais screenplay, to the cameo roles of Joe Cocker, Eddie Izzard and Bono.

I wallowed nostalgically in the trippy, psychedelic sequences, and it's turned K onto Beatles' music in a way that fifteen years' of fogey parental promotion had naturally failed to do. This was simply a haunting, beautiful film. I only wish we'd seen it on the big screen.


  1. I'm afraid to say I burned out on the Beatles a few years ago. I went through a phase of adoring them, but their sheer ubiquitousness (and Paul McCartney's face) ground me down.

    Also, a Beatles film with a Bono cameo...? That's definitely one 'b' too many. ;-)

  2. Never heard of this movie at all - is a recent release? I remain very suspicious of musicals despite being a huge fan of Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge.

  3. Rol - I can understand that. I think the treatment they've given the songs rejuvenates them though, and the camera work/cutting is a class act.

    Steve - It was released Sept/Oct last year, to mixed reviews (although it did get Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations). I share your suspicion of musicals, but thought this was a work of art more than a variety of cheese.

    See if a couple of YouTube clips wet your appetite or turn you off:
    This is the opening minute;

    And this, the Cocker number, which is one of the more heavily choreographed bits;

  4. I'm a sucker for musicals. I often wish the orchestra would start up, a la "Monty Python & The Holy Grail" - the terribly weedy young man who kept nearly bursting into song only to be shouted down by his father ("Stop that! Stop! It's silly!"). I will certainly give it a go, although like Rol I have had to give the Beatles a break after a childhood whose default musical setting was "Octopus's Garden"...