Across the Universe: Going Back to theFuture
In the 40 years since the Yellow Submarine came out, our culture has become more psychologically astute. We have the tools of consciousness at our disposal, but in becoming more self-aware, we seem to have lost the passion of youth and our ideals. That's where " Ac ro ss th e Un iv er se " comes in. It reminds us of what was happening during the 60s and how we really believed in the power of love to change the world. We need that passion once again.
Julie Taymor's brilliant movie " Ac ro ss th e Un iv er se " brought me right back to the 60's on a visceral level. This movie could have come right out of John Lennon's imagination : the movie could have been made by the Beatles -- it has the feel of who they were and what they did together. So if John and George are listening from the Beyond, and to Paul and Ringo, I want to thank the Fab Four for giving us another chance to really hear their music and amazing lyrics, and re-visit their music's significance for all our lives during those wonderful, turbulent, tumultuous years.
Each of us can tell our own stories, but it takes someone bigger to shape and recreate our collective story. That's exactly what the Beatles did for us in the 60s. As True Bards, their music still speaks to new generations. Julie Taymor, the amazing director who created the Beatles rock opera " Across the Universe " is shaping up to be a True Bard as well. This movie re-awakens us to our collective story of change that we experienced in the 60's. It says our story is still with us. The question is what are we going to do about it?
If you haven't seen " Acr oss the Univ erse ", run out and rent it right now. Besides its considerable high production values -- the settings, the dances, the costumes - the feeling behind it makes it delightfully magical to watch! It simply tells the story of the 60's as it unfolded within our psyches to the soundtrack of the Beatles' music. Their music shaped my consciousness as well as expressed what was going on inside me and everyone else I knew. And now my children and anyone else who loves the Beatles but weren't there for themselves can see how those times might have played out in our lives.
The story itself is simple and fun, yet complex and psychologically astute. If it was a novel, I'd say it was an historical fantasy. Part Beatle images and lyrics (one character says of another, "She crept in through the bathroom window."); part semi-biographical (Sadie as a Janis Joplin character/Bono as a Ken Kesey/merry prankster character/a band (the Beatles?) playing music on a rooftop); part social commentary (draftees in formation carrying a Statue of Liberty on their shoulders are they trudge through the jungles of a miniature Vietnam singing "She's so heavy" from "I Want You"). " Across the Universe " has it all. The raw emotions of the songs come out through the acting. It's a mesmerizing mix of social commentary and youthful longing, hope and love.
Taymor's use of imagery is symbolically astute. The movie opens with images of wildly breaking ocean waves superimposed with images of social unrest, and then an image of a young woman -- Lucy, our story's love interest, but even more important, the awakened Feminine Spirit. Many people have dreams of tidal waves, and one of the symbolic meanings of these dreams is that the collective unconscious is stirring -- all of our culture's repressed values and needs are rising up and overwhelming collective consciousness. And the beautiful young woman is an image of the New Feminine Spirit that is arising in the collective unconscious -- a spirit that demands that we pay attention to the repressed feminine qualities of life -- connection, compassion, intuition, feelings, nurturing, love and life. Taymor ends the movie with a heartfelt cry of "All You Need Is Love." The rest of the story shows us how this is played out.
The story itself is true to the 60s. An all-American teenager, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), leaves home to follow her older brother Max (Joe Anderson) to New York after her boyfriend dies in the Vietnam War. In Liverpool, Jude (Jim Sturgess) leaves his work in the shipyards and comes to New York and meets Max, and they all end up living at singer Sadie's (Dana Fuchs) Greenwich Village apartment along with JoJo and Prudence. This youthful 'family' experiences the turbulence of the 60s together. There's naïve Lucy whose eyes are opened to the possibilities of life beyond her 50's, sheltered upbringing; adventurous Brit Jude who breaks away from his working-class roots to make it as an artist in New York; Lucy's brother, Max, a college dropout who eventually gets drafted and sent to Vietnam; Sadie, a Janis Joplin-esque rock singer; her guitar-playing lover Jo-Jo, who comes from the riot-torn streets of Detroit; and a closet lesbian named Prudence. As these sympathetic characters go through the ups and downs of life in the 60's, we share their growing consciousness that the most important thing in life is LOVE. I left the movie feeling and knowing that this is still true.
2012 and Beyond
With this first of seven squares between evolutionary Pluto and revolutionary Uranus, we enter a new phase in the promised cultural transformation of the 60s. The Cosmic Story assures us that change will come, although not without struggle and sacrifice. The word sacrifice means to make sacred. We are being called to a sacred task, because this next step in our human evolution has to be a conscious choice. We have to choose to save our environment from further degradation. We have to choose freedom and equality over an illusionary safety and comfort. We no longer have the luxury to sit back and wait for our governments and corporations to do the right thing.
We have to do it for ourselves. If corporations won't change, we have to withdraw our support -- i.e., money. We do have power -- they have given it to us because they need us to buy their poisonous products. We need to learn other ways of taking care of our needs. We have to stop being conspicuous consumers. We did it in the 60s and we can do it again.
The Uranian/Promethean wake-up call is ringing in our minds, hearts and souls as we've witnessed the Plutonian revelations of truth about our government, our religious beliefs, our financial institutions and our technological advances. Uranus in the sign of Aries calls us to our authentic Self. Pluto in Capricorn asks us to demolish the patriarchal strictures and rules which govern our behavior. Most of us will never be thin enough, beautiful enough or rich enough to be considered one of the elite of patriarchy. So why not turn our backs on a system that will never really include us, except as humble worker-bees.
The next six squares of Pluto and Uranus will carry us far into the changes we seek. We just have to open our imaginations and see what new life wants to be born as our old culture disintegrates. Hopefully, our artists and bards will sing us the songs of hope and possibilities that await us on the far side of our challenge. Pluto will be in the sign of Capricorn until 2024. It is not going to be a quick or easy transformation, but with a strong vision and a compassionate heart, we can each play our part in birthing a new world.
The Beatles saw what needed to happen. And so did Julie Taymor. Go watch these movies and feel the spirit of the 60s come alive within you. You'll be glad you did!
Let's get this peaceful Revolution under way.