Movie review - Across the Universe

I'm pleased to say that I've had the enjoyable experience of watching "Across the Universe," a movie in which, as with that foul, disgusting piece of excrement "Forrest Gump," each character is there to represent the typical experiences of many millions of people during the 1960s ("Gump" continues on well into the 1970s whereas "Across" includes a British citizen and scenes from England).

The primary difference is that "Across the Universe" views people as making rational, intelligent choices. It treats people during that tumultuous era as young grown-ups who grapple the best they can with the situation they've got and who certainly run into their share of bad experiences. Is the whole experience ultimately helpful or hurtful? Depends really on how you view the Sixties. There's no question that "The Sixties" is shorthand for all sorts of emotional reactions, both good and bad.

"Forrest Gump," ultimately views people as dupes who are simply too stupid and easily influenced to be considered adult, rational human beings. The writer there takes so many liberties with basic human nature (A policeman is able to cut off the microphone for Gump when he arbitrarily deems Gump's speech offensive and no one is able to restore the sound until after Gump delivers a simplistic and insulting speech to the crowd, people take up jogging en masse when Gump starts running and somehow he never needs to stop for food or rest or a shower or even a change of clothes for what appears to be several weeks, etc., etc.), that it's difficult to see the characters in "Gump" as anything better than cardboard cut-out caricatures.

"Across" delivers full, rich characters making choices and living with the consequences. There are no easy answers. Prudence never gets to express her love, Jude goes back to England to find his former lover married and pregnant, Max goes to war and ends up badly wounded, but the choices are never simple black and white ones, straight good or bad. They're simply the choices that people made at the time. There's much joy to be had along the way and many of the choices turn out to be very positive ones.

"Across the Universe" is a worthy capsule history of the Sixties.


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Rich Gardner said...

Yeah, interesting views. Thanks!