Across the Universe Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
Anti-war riots, racial tensions and experimental drug use all get starring roles in Across the Universe, a film that pays homage to the Beatles, their music and their unique movie style. Using a mix of well-known and more obscure Beatles tunes as a backdrop, the script weaves together the lives of multiple characters living around the world during the tumultuous 60’s.
Jude (Jim Sturgess) is a young Londoner who leaves his job on the English boat docks and works his way across the Atlantic by shoveling coal in an ocean liner. Deserted by an American father (Robert Chohessy) before he was even born, Jude wants to meet the man who so offhandedly loved and left his mother (Angela Mounsey).
Once on U.S. soil, Jude throws in with Max (Joe Anderson), a shaggy-haired, trouble-making hanger-on who plans to ditch his father-funded college education and lose himself in the dregs of New York City. Jude also meets Max’s younger sister, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), a privileged and protected high school student about to send her boyfriend (Spencer Liff) off to war.
Once in the Big Apple, Jude and Max room with Sadie (Dana Fuchs), an emerging nightclub singer, her new guitarist (Martin Luther) and a free-spirited lesbian (T.V. Carpio) escaping from an abusive relationship. Holed up in an aging housing unit, this group of nonconformists plunges into the subversive temperament of the times, entertaining illegal drugs, alcohol and anti-establishment attitudes.
Comparing this two-hour rehashing of Beatle’s tunes to a music video likely won’t be an original idea. But there is little else to accurately describe this production that uses only enough storyline and dialogue to introduce the next musical interlude. Original news footage, artistically depicted war violence, female frontal nudity and hallucinogenic-like dream sequences are spliced into the song as well.
For Beatle fans familiar with the men and their music, this cinematic production dredges up scenes and scenarios from their lives and movies. But for a new generation of viewers, the story—which deftly avoids a US R-rating—is crammed with graphic depictions of racial riots and soldiers under fire along with nudity, both in and out of a sexual context. Strong language and repeated scenes of the era’s illegal drug culture are also portrayed.
Although the Fab Four may have given voice to an age group living in these turbulent years, the motion picture seems more interested in simply revisiting that historical period rather than showing the changes sparked by the events of the time. So while Beatlemaniacs may be inspired to pull out the tie-dyed t-shirts and headbands to hit the theatres, this film isn’t worth a trip across the parking lot for family viewers.
Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson, Bono, Eddie Izzard. Running time: 133 minutes. Theatrical release October 18, 2007. Updated March 13, 2009
Across the Universe
Rating & Content Info
Why is Across the Universe rated PG-13? Across the Universe is rated PG-13 by the MPAA For some drug content, nudity, sexuality, violence and language.
Using a script peppered with strong profanities and an extreme sexual expletive, this film delves into the drug scene of the sixties, showing repeated uses of illegal substances, cigarettes and alcohol. Sparked by strong feeling of anti-war sentiment, the characters also participate in protests that involve gun violence, bloody injuries, police enforcement and vandalism. Depictions of the war in Vietnam include soldiers under fire, bombing raids and the corpses of thinly clothed, disfigured women. Nudity, consisting of female and male buttock nudity along with female frontal shots, is seen in both sexual and non-sexual scenarios. Conversations dealing with a woman’s anatomy, war crimes, illegitimate children and death are also contained in the film.
Page last updated March 13, 2009
More parents' guide for Across the Universe after the break...
Across the Universe Parents' Guide
As an illegal immigrant on American soil, Jude doesn’t feel the same passion for the anti-war movement as his friends. Why does he feel he doesn’t have a cause for which to fight? How does his personal experience with the aftermath of war differ from the other characters?
Does this film’s artistic depiction of war, illegal drug use and riots lessen or increase the impact of these acts? How does the music influence the portrayal of these events?
The most recent home video release of Across the Universe movie is February 4, 2008. Here are some details…
Across the Universe stretches across two discs in this DVD release of the movie. Bonus extras include eight extended musical performances, a deleted scene and commentary from director Julie Taymor and composer Elliot Goldenthal. In addition there are five featurettes: Creating the Universe (cast and crew discuss the making of the film), Stars of Tomorrow (an inside look at the film’s rising stars), All About the Music, FX on the Universe (VFX supervisor Kyle Cooper explores the visual effects) and Moving Across the Universe (with choreographer Daniel Ezralow). As well, the DVD provides a photo gallery with over 100 images.
Across the Universe will also be available in BLU-RAY format. This version of the movie includes all the aforementioned bonus materials, except the photo gallery is swapped for an art gallery of Jude’s drawings (which are actually the work of Don Nace).
Both presentations offer audio tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish and Portuguese, with subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean and Thai.
Related home video titles:
Also set in this tumultuous era, Dreamgirls tells the story of a trio of young singers and the cost of their rise to fame. An unknown band that becomes a one-hit-wonder rises to the brink of success in That Thing You Do. The film Bobby examines the political climate and social issues of the same time period.