When Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe was first released in theaters in 2007, Obama was just months away from taking office, and you could feel the exciting winds of change in the air. But just over 10 years later, the current political climate, fueled by division and protests, feels more like 1968 — the era that the musical focused on.
So it seems perfect, then, that Across the Universe is heading back into theaters in recognition of 50 years since the era-defining events of 1968, which included Vietnam War protests and the assassinations of both JFK and Martin Luther King Jr.
Taymor acknowledged the significance of the film’s rerelease happening just before the upcoming midterm elections, saying that although we’re not currently in a war like Vietnam, we’re fighting “a different kind of war. A war of division, of racism, on an unparalleled level, because it’s allowed to be vocal and out front.”
In an interview with FANDOM, the director explained how both the horrific shootings at a high school in Parkland, Florida earlier this year and the rise of the school’s students taking a stand after the tragedy seem to echo the mentality of young people in 1968.
“The spirit of Parkland is absolutely the spirit of Across the Universe, where you can’t just sit at home and tweet and text,” Taymor said. “You’ve gotta get out there. You’ve gotta protest, you’ve gotta vote. You have to take back your country and say, ‘If it’s going to change my life, I need to be a part of that change.'”
Jim Sturgess, who plays English import Jude in the film, also spoke about the similarities between the events in the movie and what’s currently going on in the U.S. and throughout the world.
“The beauty of that time, in 1968, is that people genuinely believed that they had a chance at changing the world, and that was a really romantic sort of way that people took on life,” Sturgess told FANDOM. “And I do sort of feel like it’s come back around, where young people are feeling like they have an opportunity to change things again and make it different.”
With 1968 and 2018 being so similar to one another, it begs the question: Could we possibly get an Across the Universe sequel that takes place during the days of Trump and Brexit?
“I’d actually like to do Across the Universe 2,” Taymor revealed. “I’d take those characters and move them into the present day, years later, and have another crop of young people, either their children or their nieces or nephews or just their friends.”
If the film is going to take place in modern times, though, it would need a modern soundtrack to replace the Beatles. But which 2018 artists would make the cut?
“Hip-hop music is one of the most influential genres in the world,” Sturgess said, “so it would probably be a Kanye West musical or Childish Gambino.”
And while Taymor said she probably wouldn’t just pick one composer this time around, she could see music from Kenrick Lamar, Beyoncé, and Mumford & Sons making the cut.
But before we can even think about a sequel, it’s time to revisit the original film when it returns to movie theaters nationwide on July 29, July 31, and August 1. Head to Fathom Events to purchase tickets and for more information.