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NYT Critic's Pick
Film & Discussion
7 PM Tuesday, January 16   Memorial Hall   1225 Elm St, Cincinnati, 45202

Across the Universe Short Trailer
Click in the image to play trailer

A New York Times Critics' Pick, Julie Taymor's Across the Universe is a fascinating montage of music, love, war, protest and revolution in the 1960s, framed by the incomparable lyrics of The Beatles.

"Bold, beautiful, visually enchanting ... an audacious marriage of visual technique, heart-warming performance, 1960s history and the Beatles songbook."   ~ Roger Ebert

Lucy and Jude With inspired direction, strong performances, terrifically integrated songs and excellent production values, Across the Universe works brilliantly, providing an onscreen experience unlike any other.  Taymor gives the film an edge, making the events of the '60s as relevant now as when they happened.

The story follows a boy from Liverpool and a girl from Dayton Ohio as they fall in love, are swept up and then torn apart in the evolving culture framed by the war in Vietnam, the struggle for civil rights, the nascent women's movement, protest marches, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

The film's remarkable ability to navigate between whimsical music and powerful drama is riveting, the choreography is inventive, the editing and transitions are superb. Taymor limits spoken dialog, using the Beatles' lyrics to tell, and propel, the story. The result is entertaining, authentic and sobering – tracking the times and the evolution of the Beatles' music.

Protest March Obviously, Across the Universe resonates with those who lived through the sixties. But Taymor also wanted to reach people born later: "I really want younger people to see the passion in this movie ... the events and the people getting involved in those events did happen and we need to be reminded of those times.
"You put up images that are familiar to people, but the context is what makes people see them differently. So, you see it with fresh eyes, and therefore a fresh mind and fresh heart. And hopefully, you change a little, you're transformed."

When integrating visuals, story elements and Beatles' music and lyrics, Taymor's imagination seems boundless:
Hold Me Tight begins the story by contrasting Jude and Lucy's background – a Liverpool pub and a prom in Dayton Ohio.   I Wanna Hold Your Hand as a sad ballad of unrequited love, sung by a woman.  ☀ The up-tempo treatment of I Just Saw a Face.  ☀ An army induction center and fields of Vietnam in I Want You (She's So Heavy).  ☀ The assassination of Martin Luther King, lamented in While My Guitar Gently Weeps.  ☀ The poor treatment of returning Vietnam vets in Happiness is a Warm Gun.  ☀ Joe Cocker inhabiting three separate characters while singing Come Together. And many more.

One very powerful interpretation is Carol Woods' passionate gospel version of Let It Be. Juxtaposing the funeral of Lucy's high school sweetheart killed in Vietnam with the funeral of Jo-Jo's little brother killed in the Detroit riots, the scene will rip your heart out. For a sample, watch the rehearsal clip below.

Behind the scenes - Let It Be The Beatles recorded for only seven years, 1963-1970, giving us over 200 timeless songs that formed an indelible soundtrack in our lives. They brought social consciousness to pop culture and as the times changed dramatically their music evolved as well.

Taymor and composers T-Bone Burnett and Elliott Goldenthal reimagine 33 of the Beatles' most iconic and diverse songs adding to the film's unique nature. "The original Beatles songs are perfect," Julie said in an interview – "Perfectly arranged, perfectly sung. That's why the movie versions need to be complete departures." The unexpected and powerful interpretations of those lyrics enhance our appreciation of the story, the history of the 60's generation and the lasting impact of Beatles music.

In traditional musicals, the story often stops when someone starts singing. But in Across the Universe the lyrics tell the story and the music moves the plot forward. Inventively, songs often travel from one character to another, one scene to another, across time and space — "accross the universe." To add realism and keep the singing flowing seamlessly with the acting, the film uses vocal tracks recorded live on the set rather than a studio version, almost unheard of in films of today.

Short Trailer – 45 second preview
Let It Be – emotional rehearsal of a powerful scene
Hold Me Tight – contrasting Liverpool's Cavern Club with Dayton Ohio
I Wanna Hold Your Hand – a sad ballad of unrequited love
While My Guitar Gently Weeps – lamenting the assassination of MLK
Julie Taymor – 1-minute profile of her best-known works
Charlie Rose interviews Julie Taymor
Let It Be – full scene from the film
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Across the Universe, director Julie Taymor; 2007; USA; 133 minutes; Rated PG.
Tuesday, January 16, 7:00 PM, in the beautiful, newly renovated Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St, Cincinnati 45202.  Map and Parking Info
Post-Film Discussion Leader:   Dr. John Alberti
Tickets for the event (social hour with cash bar, film, post-film discussion) are:
    Adult general admission, $10 advance, $15 door.
    Adult reserved boxes, $15 advance, $20 door.
    Student/ArtsPass general admission, $8 advance, $12 door — must show valid ID upon arrival.
Click here for online tickets All tickets available online and at (859) 957-FILM.

Seating Comfort — Some patrons find the wooden seats to be somewhat unforgiving. You may bring a cushion with you to the screening.
QUESTIONS?   Please or call (859) 957 3456.

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There is so much to feel, see, hear and think about in Across the Universe.
For more than three decades, John Alberti has been immersed in the study of communication and its impact on popular culture. We're honored to have him talk with our audience about the fine points of the film and the socio-cultural elements surrounding it.

John Alberti

John Alberti Dr. John Alberti has taught at Northern Kentucky University for twenty-five years, with focus on the relationship between American literature and popular culture as evidenced in cinema, television and music.

He is currently chair of the English department and director of the Cinema Studies program at NKU, and has been instrumental in bringing the Festival of New French Films to campus in recent years.

John is a graduate of the University of Southern California (BA, English, 1981) and UCLA (MA, English 1984 and Ph.D., English, 1989). He recently authored Screen Ages: A Survey of American Cinema, and his current projects include work on gender in American cinema and television; writing in the digital age; and the movie adaptations of the Harry Potter series.

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