Overpowering a Vision

Across the Universe is a movie that takes place in the 60s in the midst of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. Julie Taymour took the music of the Beatles and created a political musical that depicts the hardships of the country as well as the hardships of romance, with sex, drugs, and protests mixed in. The movie starts off with the main character Jude, who travels to America in search of his dad. He makes a friend, Max, who shows him the ins and outs of the American lifestyle. Max and Jude decide to move to New York city. Max’s sister, Lucy, moves with them to New York and falls for Jude. When Max gets drafted into the military, Lucy takes an anti-war stance and begins to protest it. As Lucy’s political views get more and more extreme, her relationship with Jude suffers. In a violent protest, Jude tries to defend Lucy and is arrested. He then is deported. After several depressing months, Max gets injured and leaves the war and Jude returns to America. Jude professes his love for Lucy on a rooftop and the two live happily ever after.
Julie Taymour centered the plot around Beatles songs. Her attempt to incorporate as many songs as possible hurt the storyline, because she focused more on the music instead of the plot. Taymour failed to develop certain characters which added confusion and disappointment. Taymour also added random songs that did not improve the storyline or move the movie forward. She struggled to balance the music of the Beatles and the storyline of the movie. She let the music overpower the message she was trying to convey in the movie. Taymour could have made a perfect, original movie, but instead focused too much on the epic music of the Beatles and neglected her vision.

A Sense of Reality

Dead Man is a haunting tale about a man who leaves his familiar life in Cleveland behind to travel to a new frontier. Upon discovering that the job was already taken, William Blake wanders into town and meets a prostitute. After they sleep together, her ex-fiance finds them together and tries to kill William Blake. The prostitute, however, jumps in front of the bullet, killing her instantly. William Blake then kills her ex-fiance, starting his life as an outlaw. William Blake runs away from the town, befriending an Indian and increasing his death count. All the while, he is being pursued. When William Blake and the Indian, Nobody, reach the Indian village, Blake was shot by a man and is dying. The Indians decide to send William Blake away on a boat into his afterlife, while William watches Nobody shoot and be shot by their pursuer.

The death of William Blake is one necessary to the film. The film is entitled Dead Man and is about men pursuing Blake. In many Hollywood films, a predictable plot twist causes the protagonist to survive. Blake’s death, however, is necessary to the film. It adds a humbling outworldly presence of the film. Blake’s death gives a beauty to the film, because it gives the film a sense of reality, instead of an abstract Western. In most Hollywood films, the protagonist is always the winner, but the director’s choice to kill Blake gives the film a new depth.

Death: A Necessary Misfortune

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a movie about a doctor who is brought into a psych ward, because he is presumed insane.  The movie then flashes back as the audience sees the doctor returning from vacation with several people asking to see him, but shortly cancelling afterwards.  As the movie progresses, more and more people continue to report that a loved one of theirs has changed; they have no emotion, but all of the same memories.  Soon it is discovered that seeds from outer space landed in a farmer’s farm.  These seeds take on the form of a human nearby, and when the human sleeps it absorbs its memories and becomes that human, killing the original.  Whilst this is going on, the Dr. Miles and Becky become very close.  Eventually, the entire town is taken over, except for Becky and Miles.  When they hear charming music, Miles goes to check it out and Becky falls asleep.  Miles then runs away with the entire town chasing him, hoping to save the world.  The movie ends with him in the psych ward preparing to fight off another invasion.

  Despite the plot spoiler of Miles being the only one to survive due to the opening scene, I liked the ending.  It still shocked me and I was left wanting more.  The movie ends in a cliffhanger style, because the seeds seem to be taking over the world.  Becky’s death was a necessary occurrence in order to make the climax successful.  If Becky and Miles both escaped, the ending would have been mediocre.  Becky and Miles had already escaped the town once, so escaping again would only be repetitive.  Becky’s death allows the viewer to be sympathetic towards a seemingly insane Miles.  The ending, although sad, provides an unconventional twist to a stereotypical invasion movie.

All That Men Allow

                All that Heaven Allows is a film on melodrama.  It follows a widowed woman Cary, who ends up falling in love with her gardener, a man of a lower class. The movie then depicts her relationship with this man, while also showing the drama that follows due to his lower class status.  Cary chooses to salvage the relationships she has with her children and forsake her love for Ron.  After Cary’s educated daughter gets engaged, her children undergo a change of heart and encourage Cary to again marry Ron.  Ron then falls in a coma, and Cary finally works up the nerve to rekindle her love with Ron.

                Cary reinforces the stereotype of a strictly patriarchal society.  Throughout All that Heaven Allows, Cary illustrates a submissive female; she struggles to make up her own mind.  In the first stages of her relationship with Ron, Cary is hesitant to date him, but Ron commands her, and she gives in.  Even when Ron and his best friend are hunting, his best friend tells Ron that women need men to make up their minds.  The director chooses to portray women in a negative light by forcing them into this submissive role.