Film Analysis: Across The Universe


  • I analyzed Across the Universe, a film based on the songs from The Beatles. I picked this because I thought that the scene in the trailer where there were people in blue outfits and a cool wizard looking man. It made me think of a Tim Burton-esque scene and I thought it was cool!

Film Analysis

Film TitleAcross The Universe
DirectorJulie Taymor
GenreRock Musical
If you could work on this film (change it), what would you change and why?I would try to solidify the plot more so that people unfamiliar with The Beatles Discography would be able to understand the characters and sympathize with them more. I would also take out or change the level of involved-ness that the character Sadie has. She was in a lot of scenes and I am not sure where she came from.

Film information can be found at

As you view films, consider how the cuts, camera angles, shots, and movement work to create particular meanings. Think about how they establish space, privilege certain characters, suggest relationships, and emphasize themes. In addition to shot distances, angles, editing, and camera movement, note details of the narrative, setting, characters, lighting, props, costume, tone, and sound.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Who is the protagonist?Jude
2. Who is the antagonist?Vietnam war and America as well as counter-protestors.
3. What is the conflict?The conflict is mainly personal dealing with the story of Jude and Lucy’s love story but it also deals with the Vietnam War and soldiers heading in it to fight.
4. What is the theme or central, unifying concept? (summarize in one or two words)Anti War
5. How is the story told (linear, non-linear, with flashbacksflash-forwards, at regular intervals)The story is told fairly linearly.
6. What “happens” in the plot (Brief description)?The story starts with Jude in Liverpool and then he goes to New Jersey, starting his journey in America. He meets Max and then Lucy. They then go to New York and move into an apartment. After that Max gets drafted into the war and there are more protests that occur. Jude is caught in one and is deported back to England.
7. How does the film influence particular reactions on the part of viewers (sound, editing,
characterization, camera movement, etc.)? Why does the film encourage such
The movie is super cool with the effects of editing and camerawork. It is hard to describe the details and effects that the scenes go through. It has a psychedelic feel to many of them and out of reality was of filming. While watching there was so much effect in the scenes where it was almost dream-like and it left me confused, but also wanting to watch more.
8. Is the setting realistic or stylized? What atmosphere does the setting suggest? Do particular objects or settings serve symbolic functions?The settings switch around. Scenes primarily talking filled were set in a more realistic apartment, street, etc. However, on the polar opposite, scenes, where there was music being performed was out of reality styled and extremely alien. One symbolic object that kind of marked the start of the majority psychedelic effects was a bus that they went on with a large group of people and someone who was played by Bono, I am blanking on his name.
9. How are the characters costumed and made-up? What does their clothing or makeup reveal about their social standing, ethnicity, nationality, gender, or age? How do costume and makeup convey character?Similar to the settings, there is switching around occurring. Some scenes where the high content effects were in had much more extreme outfits for side characters but still remained in regular clothes for the main characters. During normal scenes everyone had on fairly normal clothes that were popular in the sixties, the time when this is set.
10. How does the lighting design shape our perception of character, space, or mood?The lighting was very colorful and stuck with the psychedelic themes in many parts. It left me really intrigued.
11. How do camera angles and camera movements shape our view of characters or spaces? What do you see cinematically?This film was cinematically very impeccably done. It was similar to many music videos and what you would expect to happen if they were around during the sixties patched together and edited to flow in a movie musical.
12. What is the music’s purpose in the film? How does it direct our attention within the image? How does it shape our interpretation of the image? What stands out about the music?The music carried the film very well. It was filled with Beatles music and the entire plotline was based on those very songs. It shapes our attention and interpretation because you are able to understand more why they edit and do the things that they did with this film.
13. How might industrial, social, and economic factors have influenced the film? Describe how this film influences or connects to a culture?The social factors that had to do with this film were the anti-war movement of the sixties. This connects to ‘hippies’, lifestyle, and our countries history.
14. Give an example of what a film critic had to say about this film. Use credible sources and cite sources.Example: “The Shawshank Redemption Movie Review (1994) | Roger Ebert.” All Content. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2015.Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 53% rating on Tomatometer and an 82% Audience Rating. The main criticism was hard to follow the plot and a lack of building sympathetically with the characters, which I agree with. Many Beatles fans loved the film in the reviews though.
15. Select one scene no longer than 5 minutes that represents well the whole film and shows relevant cinematic elements. Write a one-sentence description of the scene and record the time of the scene.Example: from 1:05:00 to 1:10:00.Explain why you chose this scene.I don’t have the direct time stamp but it was the scene titled I Want You.
16. In the selected scenewrite a sentence for each of the elements below to justify why this scene best represents the film:
a. Screenwriting:The screenwriting for script followed the song, but the plot of this scene was well written and followed the act of Max getting screened and drafted into the war.
b. Sound Design:The Sound design was primarily song-based but also with some effects.
c. Camera Movements/Angles:The camera movements were hypnotizing and very cool to watch.
d. Light Setup:Lights changed around, but has a darker vignette-like appearance and were centralized on the middle.
e. Soundtrack/Score:I Want You by The Beatles
18. What’s the socio-cultural context of this film?The cultural context was getting drafted into the war.

This worksheet was developed with ideas from many IB Film teachers, thus should remain in the Creative Commons

Mr. Le Duc’s Film Analysis Resources