Today’s entry, Across The Universe, is quite possibly my ‘What the Fuck?’ card much like fellow blogger Laurent de Alberti pulled Sister Act out of the bag the other day. I am a big fan of Julie Taymor’s work and she was insanely kind enough to give me an interview back in 2008 when I was starting to take steps into being a critic, etc. In fact, she was the third person I ever interviewed. Lucile Hadzhahilovic and Bruno Dumont were first and second. I wasn’t even a proper blogger back then, just starting out doing the odd piece here and there. But she said she’d talk to me! Amazing.
Julie Taymor is a filmmaker who critics like to take the piss out of – big time. Across The Universe originally started as a much different project before Taymor took over. Apparently it was something more straight laced. A musical with songs by The Beatles propelling the plot is an interesting idea (in theory) and Taymor – ever the iconoclast – decided rather than do old-fashioned numbers took major inspiration from the unique history of music videos to create a mad and sometimes downright cheesy kaleidoscope vision of the 1960s.
It is the story of a boy travelling to America to find his father (an American serviceman who impregnated a British woman before fucking off back Stateside). Jude (Jim Sturgess) meets Lucy (Rachel Evan Wood) and together they go through a whirlwind romance that takes in drug-taking, war protests, etc.
I’m not even a massive fan of The Beatles. I’ve always preferred the scuzzy junkie tunes of The Rolling Stones, but Across The Universe uses the songs of John, George, Paul and Ringo to winning and wonderful effect. I’ll even forgive Taymor for giving Bono a cameo. The director’s experimental streak, too, feels brave because it’s so open to ridicule. Plus Bruno Dubonnel’s photography is stunning.
Whilst I think Frida (2002) is a better film (and has that amazing dream sequence designed by the Quay brothers) I prefer to sit back and revel in the world of Across The Universe. As mentioned previous times before, the Top Twenty Films Challenge is not an attempt to name the greatest films ever made in some sort of historical and textual analysis (it isn’t a Sight and Sound exercise), but rather a challenge to say ‘these are my favourite films’. Some might laugh but I sincerely love Across The Universe.
The Top Twenty Films Challenge is an inter-blog daily feature between myself and Laurent di Alberti at FilmLand Empire blog. Each of us will reveal our Top 20 favourite films. On Thursday 5th July Laurent revealed his 8# favourite, John Carpenter’s iconic horror The Thing. For the other Cinemart entries click here: Top Twenty Films Challenge.