Nothin’s gunna change our world

Adam Griffiths

In Across the Universe, director Julie Taymor mixes indie-genius acting, timeless music and visceral visuals for the best aural experience in awhile. We learn the story of Jude and Lucy and Max and Sadie and Prudence and everyone else in their lives. Against a canvas created by The Beatles’ discography, they live out the history of the ’60s. The fact that the film’s soundtrack, re-recorded by the cast, speaks to our generation as much as it did to teenagers forty years ago, is a testament to Universe‘s scope.

After Jude’s girlfriend leaves him, he rides the subway as Taymor’s lens pans across the wide gamut of gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background that fills the train. He sings the title track as mirror images of the broken couple together appear in the windows.

“Nothing’s gunna change my world…”

And therein lies one of a myriad of messages the film sends. Since the ’60s — well, since forever, the world hasn’t changed. World events and shifts in thinking steer how we interpret and experience it, but the foundation stays the same.

I’m not putting the resiliency of humanity under the microscope. We’ve survived natural disasters, climate change and global conflict, proving our solidarity as a species.

But is the concept of change, like so many other terms we invest so much in, an illusion? Change happens because we need it to, because we can’t stand the fact that we’ve been the same for so long. Change has invariably become part of society. Those who resist it and remain the same are ostracized.

Arguably, the physical state of the world is different from yesterday, even ten seconds ago, and seemingly more and more, we as a race are responsible for what’s going on. We may have influenced the changes going on around us, but we’re still the same race that was born years ago in what’s now Africa.

We’re the same race of our ancestors, most of whom came to this country from other parts of the world. We’re still the same race that landed on the moon in the ’60s, and we’re still the same race that will persevere until we’re incapable of pressing forward.

Short of global catastrophe that renders the planet dysfunctional in supporting the human race, nothing is going to change our world. Until then, we move forward. And just like another character misunderstood by his contemporaries and history alike, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby, it’s a constant voyage to the end which may be taking us back to the beginning.

“Gatsby believed in the green light,” Fitzgerald writes at the end of The Great Gatsby, “the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther … And one fine morning —

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”