I almost feel like I should have watched Repo! The Genetic Opera this week as a counterpoint.
(Quick sidenote for those who know Across the Universe: I suspected but only confirmed yesterday that the guy Molly is with when Jude goes back to Liverpool is exactly the guy he tells her better not be taking her out while he’s gone—Phil Scully.)
The thing about Repo! is it is not built on familiar things. It’s sci-fi, it’s strange, and if I remember right (been a few years since I saw it the one time) it’s got some despicable characters right around its core. As much as the Sharks and Jets dislike one another, none of them is really all that bad a guy, nor is Lina Lamont a particularly bad person—hell, I argued a few weeks ago that she was rather wronged by the whole Kathy Selden scandal. Moulin Rouge! has the one despicable character—the Duke—but that piece is structured to make him the villain, so it’s ok. Across the Universe has no bad people, really. Paco may be misguided, but he’s only a supporting character anyway. The main cast is just people living just outside normal and trying to get along.
(Another interesting sidenote: it’s about 20 minutes in that “With a Little Help from My Friends” ends and Jude and Max (et al) have stayed out all night drinking. This is echoed about 20 minutes from the end of the film, Jude and Jo-Jo stay out all night drinking.)
(Actually, another thing: I was wondering yesterday what the first film or tv show to do that shot from inside the locker was. It’s a common trope, if you’ve got lockers in your film, at some point you will shoot your lead from inside said locker. It’s an easy visual framing device, and it puts the audience into an intimate space with the character. It’s simple.)
And, I’m ok with that—with a cast of somewhat regular people just living their lives. The musical can make something big out of something mundane just as much as it can celebrate that which isn’t already mundane. Hell, my big example of the latter this month—Singin’ in the Rain—really deals in the mundane as well, even though it’s characters are famous. The basic love story setup is mundane. The song about morning is mundane, singing in the rain is mundane. And, these things are special in how not special they are.
Or, taking one of the big lessons from Groundhog Day, the mundane and special—yeah, there’s not really a line separating them anyway. What is special now may not be what is special always, what is mundane now may not be what is mundane always. The right person makes the right remark and it can make your day when it’s just another line of dialogue in an endless stream of them.
Jude draws Lucy sleeping and it’s nothing special, for example. Yet, it’s entirely special, and the unexpected departure of Lucy just after is important to the ongoing story. Individual scenes tend toward mundanity but together, like with life, they become something bigger, better, more meaningful.
That’s the movie, that’s life, more often than not. Single moments are not necessarily magical, though we hope for exceptions. We try to make exceptions. Sometimes we fail, but sometimes we succeed.
Sometimes, it’s just how we look at things.
And, good or bad, success or failure, you got to keep on trying. The magical moments are awesome.
And, there’s this, that I forgot yesterday: