Musical mystery tour

When Julie Taymor announced she was creating an original 1960s-set big-screen musical using songs by The Beatles, the director’s fans knew that, at the very least, the result would prove a visual feast. And Taymor, who created The Lion King musical on Broadway in New York, has not disappointed. Her politically charged love story, which mixes gritty reality and psychedelic fantasy, is even richer than Titus, her film interpretation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, and Frida, her Oscar-winning biopic of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The story of a young Liverpool dock worker who gets caught up in the late-1960s world of Greenwich Village bohemia and anti-Vietnam War protest, Across The Universe adopts the Mamma Mia template of an original fiction that tells its story via an artist’s song repertoire – in this instance the Fab Four’s. Production design comes from Mark Friedberg, who has previously created a beautiful homage to the 1950s melodramas of Douglas Sirk with the meticulous Far From Heaven, and allowed his imagination to run riot on Wes Anderson’s submarine adventure The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Friedberg was given licence to ‘reinvent’ rather than ‘recreate’ the 1960s with Across The Universe, drawing on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1980s graffiti art for the magic bus belonging to the mind-expanding ‘pioneer’ portrayed by Bono. ‘As a designer herself,’ says Friedberg of Taymor, ‘she has a very keen visual sense. She’s also a collaborator. She let me get way out there and see if I would find anything she would like. Usually the stuff that was further out was the stuff she was curious about.’

Across The Universe is released nationwide on 28 September











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