The film Across the Universe takes place in the 1960s. The scenery follows the dockyards of Liverpool, the war in Vietnam, the twelfth street riots of Detroit, Princeton University in New Jersey, and The rock and roll scene of New York. The anti-war movements, social protest, love and death are used, to sum up life and struggle in the 1960s.
This movie begins with a separation of class between the rich and the poor. The third song of the movie is ‘Hold Me Tight’. This song immediately separates the two classes but foreshadows a future connection. The two classes are separated by their methods of celebration.
The wealthier celebrate in proper clothing, all the men are wearing matching white jackets and tuxedoes and the women are wearing dresses to be confused with wedding gowns. From the bright golden scenery and choreographed dancing, one is given an old fashion 1960’s feel.
The lower of the classes is from Liverpool. They celebrate in the opposite fashion. They are in a poorly lit room, which the audience can only guess is a basement. The men are wearing dark colours, and nobody’s clothing matches. This is almost a timeless feel. A party like this could have been in the 1960s or could have been last night. The only difference was today we use a DJ and they had a full band.
These two groups did come together in some sorts though. Both parties had music coming from a full band and both parties were experiencing similar emotions. Both women knew that their boyfriend would be leaving the next morning, and there is a very high probability they will never see them again. Jude is leaving for the United States, a land of new opportunities, and boyfriends name is leaving for the war in Vietnam and may not live long enough to return.
This division of the classes ends when Max needs help escaping from a group of fraternity brothers. Jude is there to lend a helping hand. Even though their first conversation is awkward, Max realized the favour he had just been given and then makes his move to reach back out to Jude by offering him a shot of whiskey.
There are so many different ways that this could have played out and neither one would have known the difference. Jude could have said ‘piss off’ and Max would’ve kept running. Or Max could have stood up and left moments after sitting on Jude’s bed. The thing to notice is even though they come from diverse backgrounds, they still shared similar emotions, values, and goals.
This was just a transitional step to break down the boulder that separates the classes. Economic status loses its role in the film at Thanksgiving dinner. Max is fighting with his parents and uncle whether or not who one defines what one does, or if what one does defines who one is.
Jude replies with “Ah, surely it’s not what you do but it’s the way that you do it”. This line brings a new light into Jude’s character and ends the judgment that has been passed upon him throughout the film, finally equalizing his status among the other characters.