Friday, February 15, 2008

Across the Universe

For Valentine's Day, my Lisa and I watched a movie I knew she would love called "Across the Universe". In a nutshell, it's a musical based in the 60's that's you're typical love story, boy travels the world, boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. The special part of this musical is that all of the songs were written by the Beatles. Initially that seems limiting, but because their songs have a timeless nature, and were based on cultural themes of the 60's it works rather well. We both enjoyed it both for the story and for the nostalgia of the songs.

All of the songs are new renditions and arrangements with the various actors singing the songs, so no original tracks here to create a pseudo-documentary. The arrangements were hit and miss for me. I'm not as familiar with the songs as some people are, so a few of the arrangements had me asking, "Wait - is that a Beatles' song?" (Lisa assured me they were.) There were a few stand-out songs that worked really well that deserve a mention. "Let It Be" was changed to a soulful gospel song with a full choir and it was tremendously moving and inspiring. "Because" wasn't terribly different than the original but the addition of female vocals was like getting really great icing on an already good cake. "If I Fell" was a surprise as a female vocal, and Evan Rachel Wood did a superb job with this.

Bono has a cameo as a drugged out hippie and does a memorable rendition of "I Am the Walrus". Salma Hayek plays a nurse but I'm not sure she actually sang in the movie. Joe Cocker also provided his voice for one of the characters in a great cover of "Come Together".

If you like the Beatles at all, you should rent this. If you are a long time fan of the Beatles, you just need to go buy this movie!

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