CFS: “Across the Universe”

Matilda Swartz

In a modern world where films are as mass produced as frozen dinners, the movie-goer often chooses to pay for a $12 ticket only to see the lead character’s one shirtless scene.

Films that appeal to the senses on a deeper level than the occasional sliver of skin are a rarity. Julie Taymor is trying to change that.

Massachusetts-born Taymor has been in the business of sensory appeal since her days studying theater and puppetry in Japan during the 1970s. Ever since, whatever genre she enters, she conquers.

She won an Emmy for her stage direction of Stravinsky’s opera, “Oedipus Rex” and a Tony for her direction and costume design of Broadway’s version of “The Lion King.” Her second major film, “Frida,” received two Academy Awards for musical score and make-up.

“Across the Universe,” Taymor’s third film, is a testament to her ability to provide audiences with an experience defined by a rainbow of hues, sounds and truths.

“Across the Universe” is a love story, a war picture and a two hour joy ride in the Beatles’ Magical Mystery tour bus.

The plot revolves around Jude and Lucy, executed by Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood. They are a Brit and a Yank, dealing with the normal trials and tribulations of being young and confused amid the chaos of the Vietnam War and the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

Bunking all standards that say matters of the heart are more moving when monochromatic and war movies more intense when devoid of sunshine, Taymor creates a technicolor testament to an era’s political, social and musical uproar.

Taymor uses the Fab Four’s tracks to illuminate her scenes in an unrivaled modern manner. It’s not your parents’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” that the frustrated Jude croons as he pins the bleeding fruit to a canvas in the name of art.

Taymor takes the unrequited love out of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and replaces it with Uncle Sam’s plea for strapping buff GIs.

By the end of the tour, Taymor has reminded viewers of all ages of how “All You Need Is Love” never ceases to send chills down vertebrae and make all romance cynics momentarily doubt their beliefs.

“Across the Universe,” the second film in Villanova University’s fall 2009 Cultural Film and Lecture Series “Hidden Treasures” will be shown four times in the Connelly Cinema: Saturday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 20 at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m.

The Monday evening screening will be introduced and followed by a discussion led by Villanova communication professor emeritus and CFS founder Joan D. Lynch.

Admission is free for all students with I.D. and $5 for all others.