This movie moves us across a landscape of Beatles hits and really fleshes out the words and possible meanings of the songs. The setting of the movie is the turbulent late 60’s, and it follows three central characters who are in their late teens in Greenwich Village. Jude is from England and is in the States on a search for his biological father who is associated with a high profile university in New Jersey and Lucy is an intelligent young woman from New Jersey with high potential with whom he forms a friendship with as well as with her brother Max. The movie moves from the more innocent suburban to the more cultured urban. However a girl singing a love song to a girl early is a sign of things being a bit topsy turvy right from the beginning. The conflict with Max is continuing with college or going out into the real world right now and finding out some things for himself. Jude is in just about the same boat as is Lucy. Max and Jude move on to NYC in the Village to see the world and experience the broader swaths of culture and era. Despite her intelligence, Lucy has some real difficulties to discern through including new friends who seem sharp minded and purposeful and politically aware at first but she may be missing an intuitive feel for where they really are coming from that is apparent to Jude but not to her. The lovely face of Lucy springs forth innocence and youth tested too early in life by the currency of war and its far reaches. While seemingly smart and operating on the maybe the right side of the issues, her new friends have an insistent kind of dogmatism that becomes a foreshading of a lurking darkness and the trails to the dark side can be found on all sides of an issue in this movie. |
The characterizations of these performances are excellent to the times and the movie itself shows that things were pointing in any number of directions for the residents of that era at the time including the importance of anti war sentiments within the youth culture of America. Some of the troubles portrayed included the race riots in Detroit as symbolic of a nation divided along the lines of race with the Vietnam War as a nation divided along the lines of war and as central to what happens in these characters lives and how these churlish range of these events captured innocents rather quickly and swiftly. The umbrage of the Vietam War and the ongoing protests seems to follow the movements of many youths despite their own differing characterizations and hopes, the searing landscape of war and racial divisions seems to hit right on the home front. The swirling undercurrents of darkness could spring forth as quickly and as untimely as the forces of light and the assasination of Dr. KIng shatters us into the darkness and becomes directly confrontational to this very person of Jude in one crossing moment of time.
The movie rolls into part musical, part music videos and mainly story but it also really does an excellent job of melding this rather seamlessly so it often feels like the music is part of the dialogue and the take away flights of fantasy do not roll us away from story. The sometimes explorations into deep fantasy do not take away from the core elements of the film and the back and forth on this has smooth and seamless elements to it.
The actors sing the Beatles songs and it isn’t done so much to do homage to the Beatles but much more so to bring these songs into realities that were being faced and needed to be moved through by the characters in this movie and by extension to the peoples of those times. There was any number of mint scenes in the movie. In a sense though, this movie actually advances the Beatles songs in that when removed from being sung by the Beatles, and interspersed into often beautiful portraits, this step away from the star light of the Beatles themselves gives us another way of feeling the overshadowing presence of the words and there meaning. In a sense the words of these particular Beatles songs became in this movie, levels higher and levels more powerful and this is what makes this movie utterly fantastic. It takes songs we may have heard many times before and brings them into levels of feeling and resonance that may have never been heard and felt before, yet they are the same songs with the same words.
One scene has Jude walking through the dark streets at night in NYC and hearing of the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination in a store window of multiple display TV’s. While this news was being reported by Walter Cronkite, two TV’s were also playing back Dr. King's speeches under the news report and this was a particularly haunting scene where the surreal lines between the spirit of life and of death seemed to blur and Dr. King's own words seem to foreshadow and then echo forward to the harsh reality of what had happened to him.
In another scene the screen turns dark as Jude imbibes in cannabis, the leaf of choice which was in ways emblematic of the times symbolizing part freedom and part rebellion and the screen fills with the foaming smoke which was a protestation in and of itself.
Another mint scene is when Lucy is in a phone booth talking with her mother midday amidst a foaming street anti war protest, insisting that she will be alright over the phone but Mom relents her arguments and finally says she just doesn’t want her beautiful daughter to be hurt as the words cross the phone lines the surrounding troubles come right to the booth and we are not sure if Lucy is going to get out of this.I do remember seeing a picture in the newspaper of an obviously beautiful woman trying to go to work amidst the ruin skyrises of a city block of at the time war torn Sarajevo. She seemed out of place to the tumult and carnage even in terms of dress. Although the war was a big issue in this movie, it didn’t dominate the screen to the point to where the movie was about only war and this movie more so captures that the rolling waves of the times could take individuals in any number of directions, granting that all of these directlons were uncertain.
Sadie is another fun character in the film who is a combination landlord and high potential singer , who is seen as older to the teens but still a foxy chick to them and they are drawn to her. She is friends with the guitarist who reminds you a bit of the iconic Jimi Hendrix.She is also teetering slightly in her unspoken personal dreams that are more revealed in her reactions that anything she says.
Max’s parents are scolding him for his nascent rebellion against the collegiate route and they seem a bit like some parents today who might want more than anything else for their kid to go to a brand name school but their outlook also has a practical and protective veneer althought their delivery on this ongoing proposition is quite poor and just seems to spin Max more into the rebellion mode. He like all of the characters have potential but where this potential will follow and what tides they will be caught in is real question but his capacity for fond fellowship and appreciation for others has a freshness and hope to it that was also representative of those times. Max is excellent in this movie as his character doesn't feel plastic but you truly see him as a individual caught in dangerous and uncertain drifts not of his making.
The songs overall really stress the voice and are excellent to following the words and their possible meaning. A most surreal scene was when Jude and his friend walk in the street suddenly and spontaneously breaking into song as if song flowed spontaneously from the soul in a cadre of united friendship, to where this seemed to flow all so naturally as if it were a regular down to earth moment in conversation. This moment took you downstream to the joys of just walking with a friend rather than higher notes of ecstasy.
Jude seems to have the most wisdom that is partly from inate keenness and feel and he doesn’t put others under expectations for his own gain, and crosses into his relationships with guarded sincerity. Yet his decision making is also uncertain and he stops writing to his beau back home taking a chance that she will be lost to someone else and he is risking his core that way.
Most prominently is how this film especially in its later parts has an across borders feel to it. The way Britain is depicted, there is enough of a throwback to turn of the century history to make you feel that there are two different time zones not only in the day but also in the years. It seems like Britain is in a earlier stage of the technological explosion that was so evident in America. You would never think so much of the Vietnam War and the protests in those times having a strong resonance into then calmer areas of the world such as Britain at the time.
You could almost get the idea for another science fiction like movie script from this movie, where in this movie you could have one country for example in the year 1910 while another country was in the 1960's simultaneously.
And of course music such as the great songs of the Beatles cannot fill into one film resonates across borders and across times and this is why the songs have revelance in 2007 years on down the road from when the Beatles were at their heights. But I don’t remember recent films that showed how the Vietnam War might have echoed across to Europe and it was quite interesting how this was broughtt out in this film. With today’s news, and the Internet, word of events travels almost instantaneously across the globe and but yet the resonance of U.S. news as newspaper items could be felt hard in those pre internet times and pre cell phone times as well even though the airwaves carried through in a slightly different manner. In one scene the heartbreaking news of a headline from America seem to lift from the page and directly in the soul of the reader.The global village is truly sensitive to the outgoing sound waves from any of its parts and bad or good news does carry widely like the aftershocks of an earthquake or the wide residue of a fuming volcano.
What helps this movie is an incredibly uplifting ending scene that both uplifts and grounds us that arises as a weaved through slowly mounting crescendo and overall this film reaches into the astounding
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