February 7, 2009

Across the Universe: the Beatles reign

My wife is a big fan of Julie Taymor and is working on the props for "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," so we spent this morning re-watching Taymor's movie "Across the Universe." For those who haven't seen it Taymor uses Beatles songs and characters from the songs to piece together a story about the history of the '60s. The movie itself is only partially successful: Some of the characters are a little wooden (hello, Evan Rachel Wood), and the movie really doesn't inspire much connection to the characters. But there are some great scenes -- including one in which soldiers in only their underwear are carrying the Statue of Liberty through the jungle while singing "She's So Heavy" (below). Taymor uses each Beatles song to help tell part of the story, and for the most part it works fine; in fact, sometimes surprisingly well. And there are some great cameos by Joe Cocker, Bono and Eddie Izzard that are fun as well.
What really stands out though, and not that this hasn't been said before, is how great the Beatles songs are. The film just drives home the point that there is no band or band's music that has influenced this country more than the Beatles. And please, let's put this Beatles vs. Stones argument to rest. I love the Stones, but there really is no comparison. Some might argue that Elvis in the '50s had a similar influence. I can't argue that since I wasn't there, and others might bring up Dylan. Both are individuals (I did say band), but I would also say that Dylan had a huge effect on a certain group of people and his music was a huge influence, but it does not come close to the cultural impact the Beatles had.
All this, I'm sure has been said, dissected and analyzed before. But in watching that film, and the way Taymor layed out the songs -- even in some of its wild artificiality -- it just made me appreciate the Beatles that much more.
Just my thought for the day.

No comments: