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"All you need is love, love
Love is all you need"
It stars Jim Sturgess as (Hey) Jude and Evan Rachel Wood as Lucy (In The Sky With Diamonds), whose romance is the central plot that unfolds over the backdrop of The Sixties.
Jude Feeney is an aimless young man from Liverpool who heads to America in hopes of finding his absent father, who knew his mother in WWII but had never been told that Jude was born. When the man proves to be something of a disappointment, he falls in with Ivy League frat boy Max (...well's Silver Hammer, not sung in the film) Carrigan. (Max helped him find his dad; Jude helped Max escape campus authorities; it went on from there.) The two move to New York with Max's sister Lucy. Jude finds himself falling for Lucy, and everyone falls for the hippie scene present there. But the real world intrudes as The Vietnam War wages on, and the political involvement (willing and otherwise) of various members of Jude's True Companions becomes more and more perilous. It threatens to pull Jude and Lucy apart -- she's involved, and he doesn't approve of that part of the movement she's in...
Across The Universe contains examples of:
- Alice Allusion: After the gang gets ditched by Doctor Robert, en route to Mr. Kite's circus.
Jude: Where are you taking me?
Lucy: Down the rabbit-hole!
- Artistic Stimulation
- The Beatles
- Beta Couple: Averted with Sadie and Jojo, who get together fairly easily, but run into relationship troubles later on.
- Big Applesauce
- Black Comedy Rape: When the gang is trying to help Max find a way to get out of his conscription, Prudence suggests "Tell them you're a pedophile, and you can't wait to molest all the little girls who look like me!"
- The Cameo: In order: Joe Cocker as a hobo, a pimp, and an aging hippy singing Come Together, Bono as a wacky Ken Kesey Expy singing I Am the Walrus (and ACTING), Eddie Izzard as Mr. Kite, and Salma Hayek times 6 as a sexy nurse. Except for Salma Hayek, all qualify as One Song Wonders.
- Closed Door Rapport: Prudence, who had a crush on Sadie, ends up locking herself in a closet after she realizes that Sadie and Jojo are now a couple. So the gang (minus Sadie and Jojo, incidentally, who have a thing they have to get to) sing "Dear Prudence" to try and convince her to come out of the closet, get out of her funk, and see the world for how wonderful it is.
- The Cover Changes the Meaning: The Beatles wrote "I Want To Hold Your Hand" as a straightforward love song. Here, it's a closet lesbian pining for her unrequited crush. It works.
- One particularly Egregious example of this is "Girl"; though it only uses one verse, the orchestration and out-of-context lyrics changes the song from a lament about a man whose girlfriend's presence is putting serious strain on his social life with his buddies, to a simple ballad about a lost love.
- Another great example is "I Want You" A song about lust and how sexy (heavy) the subject is. In the film the song is set to Uncle Sam's pointing finger on the Army recruiting poster, "I Want You!" during Max's draft board examination.
- Cool Bus: Especially if you're on hallucinogens.
- Dead Little Brother: JoJo is the brother of the little boy from "Let It Be" killed during the riot.
- Death Notification: For the mother of Lucy's boyfriend, right after Lucy sings about how they'll be together soon.
- Design Student's Orgasm: It's Julie Taymor in top form. What else would you expect?
- Doing It for the Art: The homage to The Beatles was more important than the plot, hence a few songs and sequences that technically didn't advance the story at all.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Executive Meddling: Attempted, but failed. The studio decided the original cut of the film was "too artsy," and re-edited it to better suit mass audiences. However, Julie Taymor had enough clout to make sure she had Protection From Editors in her contract. She made them release her cut without any alterations, and even went so far as to get the studio to destroy all copies of their re-edited version.
- Fake American: Joe Anderson, Max's actor, is actually English.
- Also, Irish-man Bono plays the American Doctor Robert.
- Foreshadowing: With the song "A Little Help from My friends"
College buddies: Would you believe in a love at first sight?
Jude: [sarcastically] Yes I'm certain that it happens all the time.
- ...and then he sees Lucy.
- Five-Man Band:
- Gayngst: Prudence spends a while of time angsting about not being able to be with her crush of the moment. It doesn't help that she has a habit of falling for straight women who are already in relationships.
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: Sadie, particularly during "Helter Skelter," with the scene switching from the performance to Max fighting in Vietnam. It's easy to get chills when her fiery red hair fades into explosions from the battle.
- Gospel Revival Number: The Gospel cover of "Let It Be" is one of the best covers in the film.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Max and Jude.
- Hospital Hottie: The Bang, Bang, Shoot, Shoot Nurse played by Salma Hayek.
- Ho Yay: "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" might just be the most homoerotic scene in any movie ever. The army recruiters get awfully handsy while singing a song originally about sexual obsession and lust to a bunch of half-naked young men, as Prudence gayngstfully sings about her own obsession with Sadie.
- Incoming Ham: Bono gets an entire monologue that seems to be made up of this, including the beginning of I Am The Walrus.
- Ivy League for Everyone
- Jukebox Musical
- Jump Scare: When Lucy is nearly shot.
- La Résistance: Lucy joins a group of anti-war activists following Max's conscription. The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized.
- Large Ham: Bono as Doctor Robert.
"TIME...is not on our hands, people. Time is slippin' through 'em. We got to transcend the bullshit...and FAST!"
- Never knock the way another cat swings.
- Match Cut: During "Strawberry Fields Forever," between the strawberries Jude is painting and throwing, and the bombs the US Army is dropping.
- Also during "Helter Skelter", which matches Sadie's wild red hair with explosions from a Vietnam battle.
- Mushroom Samba: "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite," and "I Am The Walrus" are perfect examples of why you should never watch this movie on acid.
- Nipple-and-Dimed: Naked symbolic... art people?
- Meaningful Funeral
- Meaningful Name: Every character with a name had it derived from a Beatles song.
- One-Scene Wonder: Bono as Dr. Robert, a Ken Kesey Expy.
- Eddie Izzard as Mr. Kite.
- Recycled Soundtrack: The version of "A Day in the Life" used in the film was recorded by Jeff Beck in 1999, being the only cover not original to the film.
- Rooftop Concert: The film ends with one of these after all of the characters (minus Lucy) reunite. She shows up for a meaningful eyelock with Jude at the very end though.
- Say My Name
- Shout-Out: All over the place.
- Every single one of the main character's names are from a Beatles song.
- Jude, naturally, is a Liverpudlian with a thick Scouse accent.
- Sadie and JoJo are very obviously fictitious counterparts to Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
- Prudence coming in through the bathroom window.
- When Jude first sees Prudence: "Hello, Hello"
- Maxwell could have killed his granny with a hammer.
- Mr. Kite is accompanied by the "Blue People".
- The apple Jude tries to draw is basically the Apple Records logo.
- The hand in the Strawberry Fields Forever sequence holding the strawberry grenade
- The tour bus, the one that looks kinda magical and mysterious.
- The impromptu concert on the roof at the end of the film.
- An old man at the shipyard tells Jude he thought he'd never be working there "when I'm 64."
- The Sixties
- Spiritual Sequel: To the movie version of Hair.
- Strolling Through the Chaos: Prudence's first song.
- Survival Mantra: The reprise of Revolution.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: It's a Jukebox Musical, after all.
- Title Drop: Done twice, once in the song the movie gets it's title from, and once by Mr. Kite
"And tonight Mr. Kite is TOPPING THE BILL BABY! ACROSS THE UNIVERSE!"
- Uncanny Valley: Deliberately invoked by the soldiers in the "I Want You" sequence.
- The Vietnam War: Naturally.
- Waxing Lyrical: There are multiple examples, all with Beatles songs, of course.
- Welcome to the Big City: "Come Together" for Jojo.
- ~What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?~