Final Proposal

Andrew Halley

Professor Vander Zee

English 299 / Proposal

28 March 2016

“All My Loving”: Romantic Universalism in Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe

Julie Taymor’s fantasy/drama film Across the Universe (2007) is a musical, utilizing thirty-four Beatles’ songs, all sung and performed by the actors, as its sonic framework. Against the backdrop of the 1960’s counterculture, this film follows a romance between the protagonists, Jude and Lucy, and the complications they face from the social turmoil brought on by the Vietnam War and the consequent, gradual dissipation of the free-love era.

The key word from the aforementioned paragraph is “romance”, a word that The Beatles themselves explored unequivocally through their lifestyle choices and music, and the word I will be using as the scope of my paper. As The Beatles evolved from teenybopper sensation to rock n’ roll band, the message embedded within their music did too. During this transition, The Beatles started to confront their own thoughts and offered their own solutions to problems that were arising during the 1960’s. A solution that is frequently associated with The Beatles and most widespread in their work is this theoretical notion of “love” on a universal scale, a harmonious love interwoven between every soul that constitutes the human race, which I will call, for the sake of avoiding such a perpetually hyperbolized word, romantic universalism. Many critics have studied and justified The Beatles open advocacy of romantic universalism through their lyrics, interviews and other aspects of their personal life, and even their implementation of multi-track recording. Thus, from the vantage point of Beatles scholars, romantic universalism follows a clear path and is undoubtedly a primary theme throughout The Beatles’ work.

This essay explores The Beatles’ notion of romantic universalism in the context of the film Across the Universe. Though critics have provided an immense amount of evidence that supports romantic universalism in The Beatles’ work, they have not yet explored how accurately The Beatles’ conception and application of romantic universalism is presented in Across the Universe. Closer attention to the film’s visual presentation of The Beatles’ songs, its attention to historical correctness, and plot structure all reveal that this film fulfills The Beatles’ idea of romantic universalism. Being that Across the Universe in one of the only Beatles-oriented films that has a fictional, dramatic plot, I find it baffling that there have not been any Beatles scholars who have written on this film in an attempt to highlight its accuracy under the range of Beatles history or expose its inaccuracies. The Beatles were such a revolutionary band, having the most profound impact on rock n’ roll to date, and I feel that anything that has attempted to recreate their originality deserves to be analyzed under a very precise microscope. Independently, I have been studying The Beatles musical legacy for quite some time and I hope to provide the first in-depth analysis of Julie Taymor’s film Across the Universe.

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