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  Publicity Stills of "Across The Universe"
(Courtesy from Columbia TriStar)

Genre: Romance/Musical
Director: Julie Taymor
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson, Max Carrigan, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther, T.V. Carpio
Runtime: 2 hrs 11 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: NC-16 (Some Nudity)
Official Website:

Opening Day: 27 December 2007



An original musical film and love story set in the 1960s amid the turbulent years of anti-war protest, the struggle for free speech and civil rights, mind exploration and rock and roll. At once gritty, whimsical and highly theatrical, the story moves from high schools and universities in Massachusetts, Princeton and Ohio to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Detroit riots, the killing fields of Vietnam and the dockyards of Liverpool. A combination of live action and both painted and three-dimensional animation, the film is paired with many Beatles songs that defined the time.

Movie Review:

”Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something
I think you’ll understand
When I say that something
I wanna hold your hand”

And so goes one of the many famous Beatles hit, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. Now, imagine the same song being sung in a much slower tempo than the original by a girl who is longing for another girl’s affections. The song, sung with much anguish is one of the many moments in the film which forces you to rethink and relook at the thirty-three Beatles songs on the hit list of Across the Universe. If you can get pass the song I mentioned earlier, then you will probably be geared up for this film.

Across the Universe, unlike many of the stage-to-film musicals we have been getting as of late, is a jukebox musical made especially for the silver screen by none other than Julie Taymor. While Taymor has handled fares like Frida and Titus, this is her first film musical foray. She, however, is a Tony Award winning director for the spectacular stage musical version of The Lion King. To say that the film is one that is picture pretty, music-laden yet having a pretty thin plot, is quite rightly saying the truth about it. And this is where the debate begins.

This Beatles inspired film is about Jude (Jim Sturgess), a Liverpool lad who travels to the good US of A to find his real dad. There, he forms a formidable friendship with Max (Joe Anderson) and soon, starts to fall head over heels for his sister, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). This fictional tale of love lost and found is set against the backdrop of a turbulent 1960s where peaceful protests and rabid riots happen parallel with the Vietnam War.

Let us get one thing straight. Across the Universe will attract two types of audiences, one that will like it and one that will not. And the runtime of 2 hours 11 minutes puts the film at being a tad too long. There are moments in the film which can be removed and not affect the film at all. This is no Lust, Caution after all. Essentially, the premise of the film is nothing that is new and to be honest does not introduce anything new. Across the Universe is, despite the intense atmosphere, is primarily a story about the simple pleasures in life, which almost everyone can relate to easily. It is not exactly a smart film but it is a charming one, what’s more with its stunning visuals and lyrical nature. Still, there are many parts which many may find absurd or abstract, you decide. Just be prepared to suspend disbelief for many a time.

The cast made up of virtual unknowns, led by the pretty Evan Rachel Wood and the up and coming Jim Sturgess is very strong and constantly light the screen up no matter what the scene was. This is a film that whilst slightly bizarre, is filled with a lot of happiness, anger, sadness, confusion and tensions all coming together to form a combustible combination. And at various points of time, the actors just give it their best and this includes a commendable performance by Bono who makes quite an unforgettable appearance.

Some may say the film is one that is contrived attributing to the fact that the story was created only after conjoining the different Beatles songs. Others may consider the endeavour to be one that is original and ambitious. If there is one thing this film is full of, its passion and it should be up to you to decide. As for me, Julie Taymor and her cast succeeded in bringing me across their universe.

Movie Rating:

(Across the Universe is a visually stunning film that will make you love the Beatles even more!))

Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri


. Hairspray (2007)

. Dreamgirls (2006)

. Perhaps Love (2005)

. Bride & Prejudice (2004)

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