“All You Need Is Love”
Across the Universe:
Julie Taymor & The Beatles
By Jen Johans
| However, just as predictably, when the images from the war reach their home, Lucy
can’t just sit aside so she and Jude face the end of their relationship with
John Lennon, who was inspired to write “Revolution” while in India, said that, “he
had been feeling that it was time to start speaking up about the Vietnam War and
decided he wanted to say what he thought about revolution.” While the song
developed into several versions, it seems as though Lennon was never quite satisfied,
ultimately noting, that “I thought I was painting in sound a picture of revolution-
but I made a mistake. You know. The mistake was that it was anti-revolution,”
Although student revolutions were the rage in the 60’s and 70’s with violent protests,
some of which are included in Universe, wherein Jude struggles to help Lucy at
Columbia University’s event which gets quickly out of hand as he’s later deported (as
Lennon nearly was). Eventually, Lucy realizes how violent the anti-war movement
would become when her associates stage a dangerous action that results in an
explosion, inspired by one carried out by The Weather Underground (IMDb).
Melding all of the character’s moments of clarity into one as the events come to a
head via a few different songs including Sadie’s fiery “Helter Skelter” playing
simultaneously, Taymor opts to return to the title track “Across the Universe” in a
key scene so that its lyrics really ring true, as you’ll see below.
After Max is injured in the war and returns home, Julie Taymor reunites with her
Frida star Salma Hayek (pictured below), for the staging of the trippy and
controversial “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” Hayek who was originally asked to play
the “Bang Bang Shoot Shoot” nurse reportedly questioned the role, asking, “Just one
nurse, Julie?” thus her role is multiplied by five (IMDb).
Calling it the “weirdest song,” on the DVD, Taymor admits that she’s not sure what
Lennon intended in writing it, despite McCartney’s belief that it’s his favorite track
off of The White Album (Harry, 285). However, she knew it called to mind images of
guns, drugs, and sexuality first and foremost and wanted to ensure she was depicting
the unfortunate way our brave vets were treated so poorly upon their return from the
war, according to the DVD.
While The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia notes that Lennon derived the idea of the
song from an American gun magazine cover shown to him by George Martin, which
Lennon thought was outrageous, “[“Happiness”] was put together from three
unfinished songs… [and the] themes of the songs were completely different [but], he
managed to weld them together,” (Harry, 285).
Similar to the way three songs were melded together for “Happiness,” the last three
songs manage to wrap up the events of the film nicely as first the lonely, upset vet
Max sings “Hey Jude” from an American bar to his friend Jude back in England. And,
fearing that Lucy had been involved in the explosion that killed her fellow
protesters, Jude returns back to the states where the “Na na na na” chorus and “Hey
Judey, Judey, Judey, Judey, Judey,” sound their most triumphant as the friends are
|Text Only (c) Jen Johans. filmintuition.com
|Note: When originally posted in
2008, the embedded videos we
found online were all in working
order. However, due to Sony
Pictures copyright violation, a
majority of the clips have now
been removed from YouTube.
We've chosen to leave all of the
original videos throughout the
piece to give you a reference
point of where to follow along
when you watch the film on your
own to best appreciate the essay.