Sunday, October 17, 2010

Across the Universe

Last weekend - October 9th - would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday.

A few weeks ago, I happened to be giving Gary Ross's compelling fantasy Pleasantville a second viewing.  I hadn't remembered that Lennon's Across The Universe, one of my favourite Beatles songs, is played over the end credits - a particularly stoned version by Fiona Apple.  The video below, incorporating a key scene from the film where an enraged mob trashes the small-town diner, was included among the DVD extras, and I found it quite captivating.  I therefore decided to post it as a belated birthday tribute to Lennon.

In tracking this down on YouTube, I was led to this version of the song by Laibach - a bizarre art-rock band from Slovenia (I couldn't make it up!).  It makes for an interesting, er, contrast.

And here's the original Beatles version, accompanied by an interesting homemade animation.

RIP, John.

[Of course, the refrain "Nothing's gonna change my world" was an affirmation of enlightened detachment, a declaration of imperviousness to the stresses of the material world around us.  In the film Pleasantville, though, it represents an ironic commentary on the townspeople's stubborn refusal to embrace change.  That kind of head-in-the-sand obstinacy is not what Lennon had in mind; but it does fit in all too well with my 'theme' of the week.]


JES said...

I'd never heard of Laibach before, although that Wikipedia article implies that they've been influential. The woman singer in the video looked like a WeightWatchers-endorsement version of Isabella Rossellini. And the young boys (not really band members, were they???) in those khaki-brown school uniforms, I thought, reminded me of the kids in Cabaret singing "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" -- again, the Wikipedia profile makes that sound not all that improbable a coincidence.

Have you seen the Across the Universe film? I didn't like that as much as I'd hoped I would -- but it also wasn't as bad as I'd feared.

Froog said...

Have come across the film, not seen it yet.

Yes, Laibach seem to merit further investigation - though not a favourite version of this song. I was surprised how much the Fiona Apple rendition got under my skin.

Gary said...

Great stuff! Well apart from Laibach. That's just freakin' SCARY.

Froog said...

Yes, the whole Hitler Youth aesthetic is very troubling. And the oddly intense guy in the Egyption headdress (a Nation of Islam reference??) with the 'Om' at the end - that could give you nightmares.

The female singer's rather gorgeous, though. Pity about her pronuniciation. I wonder if the mangled English is another deliberate effect - "they sleether as they pass, they sleep away..."

Froog said...

I'm surprised - and a little disturbed - how even just a few weeks on, I can't now clearly distinguish in my memory the song video from the movie: I'm not sure the riot scene is shown in the movie at all - maybe we just see the aftermath. And even if it is in the film, I'm not sure how much of that same footage is incorporated in the video; I think the scene was mostly - or entirely - recreated (in slow motion) for that.

I find it interesting too that the fine actor John C. Reilly (it is him, isn't it?) appears at the end of the video as the man who salvages a favourite record from the shattered jukebox. He's not in the movie at all. I wonder if he was originally, and his part was cut? It seems a little surprising that an actor of such stature would accept such a tiny cameo in a music video.