I’m not much of a purist about most things but Beatles’ songs are an exception. The idea of a movie that used the songs of The Beatles to tell a story did not really appeal to me. That the songs were not the original recordings made the idea seem even worse. However after re-reading Roger Ebert’s review of the movie “Across the Universe” I felt I had to at least give the film a shot. Jude (Jim Sturgess) has come to the United States to find his father and make his way as an artist. While here he meets Max Carrigon and his sister Lucy. From here the film follows Jude and Lucy through the turbulent sixties while capturing their up and down relationship. This happens to the beat of the accompanying background of Beatles tunes.
Across the Universe paints a very accurate picture of the 60’s which surprised me. The story was not trite. Instead, it had a well-developed plot and characters that also had substance to them. I found that I was actually interested in what happened to them. If I had any issue with the film it was with the music but not during the film however. If they had used actual Beatle recordings, the film would have fallen apart. The reimagined use of the songs added to the feel of the film. One song in particular struck me hard; the song “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” To quote from Roger Ebert’s review, “I realized how wrong I was to ever think that “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was a happy song. It's not happy if it's a hand you are never, never, never going to hold. The love that dare not express its name turns in sadness to song.” The film also features perhaps the best draft board scene since Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant.” I might not buy the soundtrack for Across the Universe, but I wouldn’t change a song in it. If you want to remember, relive or experience the mood of the 1960’s, there are few films that could do it better.