Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Beatles in the 21st Century

Yesterday afternoon, I was painting the second bedroom, listening to Middlemarch courtesy of, when my husband decided we needed to go to a movie. I got to a stopping place, cleaned up and we went to the nearby cinema to see Across the Universe.


A simple love story, set to the music of the Beatles, against the background of the sixties. I kept trying to compare it to other films--Grease, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Hair. But every time it reminded me of something, it immediately took off in another direction. I finally stopped with the comparisons and just sat back and enjoyed a very fresh, very original, work of cinematic art.

Lots of fun Beatles allusions and 33 original interpretations of songs written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. My feeling coming out of the movie was that, although the Beatles wrote amazing songs and their performances of those songs were definitive, two of the Beatles have died. It's a new century, and their performances are history. But the songs have passed into popular culture; they are like folk songs now. This movie seems to be claiming the songs for America, despite the spirit of Paul McCartney which permeates the film in the character of Jude (Jim Sturgess). The gospel choir belting out "Let it Be," the Janis Joplin wannabe singing "Why Don't We Do it in the Road" and then joining the Jimi Hendrix-like character to perform "Don't Let Me Down"--this is cultural imperialism at its best. Poor Jude even tries to return to the dreary coal-smudged life that was his in Liverpool, but he has been bewitched by the rich blonde girl with the perfect New World teeth, and he is going to have to accept his birthright after all, even if he has spent his life "trying to hate" his American father.

Across the Universe is close to being the perfect Hollywood movie. The production is flawless, and there are enough happy endings to go around for everybody.

Remember: "All you need is love!"

P.S. Julie Taymor has the most impressive resume I've ever seen for a director.

P.P.S. By 9:00 p.m., I had finished painting the bedroom, and today it is all reassembled. Mission accomplished. Next weekend: the living room!

No comments: