Across the Universe

From the swoony opener, on a beach, when newcomer Jim Sturgess sings, "Is there anybody going to listen to my story?" Across the Universe sweeps you up on a wave of terrific Beatles songs. Director Julie Taymor (Titus, Frida, Broadway's The Lion King) is back on the high wire with this visionary attempt to wed a story of young love and 1960s war protest to the Lennon-McCartney catalog. Sturgess is a find as Jude (song cue!), a Liverpool dock worker who hits Manhattan to locate the man he thinks is his father. Instead, he discovers Lucy (luminous Evan Rachel Wood) and a psychedelic drug culture that gets heavily politicized when Lucy's brother Max (Joe Anderson) faces the draft, napalm and happiness as a warm gun. Somehow Taymor blends this story with puppets, 3-D animation, the Columbia student riots, Eddie Izzard as Mr. Kite and Bono finding the LSD beat in "I Am the Walrus." To call it trippy would be an understatement. Your head might explode. Just don't accuse Taymor of playing it safe.

From The Archives Issue 270: July 27, 1978