Film Analysis: Across the Universe


  • I choose Across the Universe, a musical/romance the features Beatles song, to analyse because I like the music of the Beatles a lot.

Film Analysis

Film TitleAcross the Universe
DirectorJulie Taymor
If you could work on this film (change it), what would you change and why?I wouldn’t have named the characters by the names of Beatles songs because it didn’t add to the story add just made it cheesy.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Who is the protagonist?Jude, a young British worker
2. Who is the antagonist?Dr. Robert
3. What is the conflict?The Vietnam War.
4. What is the theme? (summarize in one or two words)Learn more…Romantic musical
5. How is the story told (linear, with flashbacks, flash-forwards, at regular intervals)Learn more…Regular Intervals
6. What “happens” in the plot (Brief description)?Jude joins the navy and jumps ship in order to find his father who he had never met. He finds him at an ivy league college and while he was there he meets Max and Lucy, Max’s sister. Lucy’s boyfriend dies in the Vietnam War and all three of them move to New York. While there they begin to live in New York, Max is drafted into the war and many anit-war war protests occur in the streets.
7. How does the film influence particular reactions on the part of viewers (sound, editing,
characterization, camera movement, etc.)? Why does the film encourage such
The film encourages a suspicion for Dr. Robert by portraying him as a kind of hippie king pin. He acts very confident and is filmed in very strong, psychedelic, multi colored, and saturated lighting making the viewer feel as though he has those around him in some kind of trance. He is given the song “I am the Walrus” by the Beatles. The lyrics of this song make him sound like some kind of twisted mastermind, which appealed to the crowd. Later on in the film, it becomes clear that Robert had actually been using his influence and psychedelic drugs to entice women to fall for him.
8. Is the setting realistic or stylized? What atmosphere does the setting suggest? Do
particular objects or settings serve symbolic functions?Learn more…
The setting is stylized to make it look overly colorful at some times and at others to make it look like an illusion. The colorful and surreal scenes are meant to look like a burst of the hippie culture of the 60s. In parts of the movie where heavy visual affects are used to warp the setting, it is meant to show the greater significance and tragedy of the scene, notably in Max’s recruitment scenes and medical scenes. Jude used strawberries to represent the lives of the soldiers who were fighting in Vietnam.
9. How are the characters costumed and made-up? What does their clothing or makeup reveal about their social standing, ethnicity, nationality, gender, or age? How do costume and makeup convey character?Learn more…Jude is clothed in working class British coats. Max is introduced in casual clothing that is similar to his friends at the university but he later takes up the hippie outfits of his New York room mates. Jude keeps wearing his working class coats throughout the movie unlike the other characters which shows his attachment to his life in Britain and the other characters’ embrace of their new life in New York.
10. How does the lighting design shape our perception of character, space, or mood?Learn more…The lighting in the movie often accurately shows the underlying mood of the scene. In a sweet moment by the sea with Jude and Lucy, the lighting is soft and golden. It makes the surrounding dock wrecks somewhat scenic. This in turn makes the scene Jude and Lucy’s escape from the troubling events that were occurring in the world in that time.
11. How do camera angles and camera movements shape our view of characters or spaces? What do you see cinematically?Learn more…In dramatic scenes like the strike at the buildings in New York, the camera appropriately moves around the action and creates an energetic and chaotic effect. It emphasizes the anger of the people in the scene. In other scenes, the camera follows a character who has left the action, adding a depth of emotion to an otherwise straight forward scene.
12. What is the music’s purpose in the film? How does it direct our attention within the image? How does it shape our interpretation of the image? What stands out about the music?Learn more…The music serves as a template to build upon in order to express a particular character of group of character’s feelings in that given time. The originally feel of many of the Beatles songs used in the film are given new meanings with the original covers and ways that they were used in the film.
13. How might industrial, social, and economic factors have influenced the film? Describe how this film influences or connects to a culture?Learn more…The film portrays the political climate of the 1960s. It shows the protests toward the Vietnam war and the devastating effects of the war with one of the main characters, Max, being drafted, and the death of Lucy’s first boyfriend in the war. The film also touches on the civil rights movement and the death of Martin Luther King Jr.
14. Give an example of what a film critic had to say about this film.Use credible sources and cite sourcesExample: “The Shawshank Redemption Movie Review (1994) | Roger Ebert.” All
Content. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2015.Find good sources…
“Nothing’s gonna change my world” Roger Ebert. All content. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 September 2007. “This isn’t one of those druggy 1960s movies, although it has what the MPAA shyly calls “some” drug content. It’s not grungy, although it has Joe Cocker in it. It’s not political, which means it’s political to its core. Most miraculous of all, it’s not dated; the stories could be happening now, and in fact, they are.”
15. Select one scene no longer than 5 minutes that represents well the whole film and shows relevant cinematic elements. Explain why.PLACE THE TIME STAMP FROM THE SCENE HERE… Example: 0:33:10 – 0:36:40
16. In the selected scene: write a sentence for each of the elements below:
a. Screenwriting:Switches back and forth from American soldiers fighting in Vietnam African Americans getting attacked by police, and the funerals of the victims of both events.
b. Sound Design:Captures violence, screaming, and explosions.
c. Camera Movements:Changes on different subjects in order to show the event.
d. Light Setup:Uses natural outdoor lighting and natural lighting from church windows.
e. Soundtrack:A cover of “Let it Be” by the Beatles.
18. What’s the socio-cultural context of this film?Learn more…Compares the tragedy and the grief and loss that is felt by both victims of the Vietnam War and African Americans who had had their rights infringed upon by police and the government.

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