Across the Universe is a social commentary on the state of the government and the nation during the time of the Vietnam War. Romantic and familial relationships, such as the one between Lucy Carrigan & Jude, provide a backdrop along with the sweeping soundtrack courtesy of The Beatles. The anti-war theme becomes evident during the “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” scene which occurs at an Army Induction Center in New York City. Max Carrigan, the brother of Lucy, has received notice that he will be drafted into the United States Army. The next minutes of the film are a surreal view of the physical and induction process.
As the scene begins we view Max entering the Induction Center. The camera angle makes the building more imposing as it appears to loom over Max. As he enters the building the opening phrases of “I Want You” begin as an Uncle Sam poster on the wall comes to life reciting the words to the newly arrived Max. As the camera pans from left to right along with Max point of view we feel his impending sense of panic. The hand of Uncle Sam reaches towards Max as he is grabbed two soldiers and moved along into a corridor.
The corridor is filled with other soldiers complete with grotesque masks and military uniforms. The camera movement is smooth as it follows Max down a moving ramp as he is methodically stripped down to his boxers by the malevolently costumed guards. As Max exits the corridor he enters a large room filled with other Army recruits also stripped to their boxers. The guards begin a staccato recitation of the words being sung in the song. “I want you, I want you so bad” is repeated and accentuated by the movement of guards as they perform a choreographed routine while the recruits are moved into rows with the guards. During this shot sound and camera angle evoke stark emotions which are evident in the faces of both Max and the other recruits. They guards or Army officers seem to be brainwashed