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Across the Universe: Acid Redux

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It surprised me when I learned that my 21-year-old daughter and her friends envied me for my adolescence in the 60's. I'd gotten used to being reviled as a baby boomer - the generation most people wish would go away and stop taking up so much space, the generation that's supposed to bankrupt Social Security and burden our kids with the costs of elder care because we just won't die, already.

Even more shaming, when my kid asks me what it was like in, say, 1967, what instantly springs to mind is lying, more or less unclothed, in the summer grass and looking up at the sky and being both in the grass and in the sky, and filling up with so much love I could have burst into smithereens. Yup, that's my Proustian souvenir: acid (blotter variety).

That was when drugs were the solution, not the problem, and we were wrong, and it didn't last that long, but surreptitiously I still carry inside me that love rhapsody in the grass as my most treasured memory. I never thought it could be recaptured until I saw Across the Universe. There it was: young bodies in the grass, gazing up at the sky, wrecked and in love, to the soundtrack of the Beatles Because.

Julie Taymor's film has a truly dopey story as its alibi for existing, but oh wow, what a trip it is. No movie about the 60's has ever really communicated what it was like (if anyone cares): even Forrest Gump just hit the obvious news events and then motored on. Across the Universe just flat takes you there, through Taymor's kaleidoscope eyes. Unlike an actual LSD trip, it's over in two hours (even then it's too long) and there are no afterflashes. Like LSD, I can't wait to do it again.

I don't actually approve of this feeling, and it unnerved me to read online whole threads devoted to the question of "Should I see it stoned or sober?" with most respondents coming down on the side of "stoned" and then debating whether it's better to smoke pot or take E before buying a ticket. I don't want any film to encourage people to take drugs and certainly I don't want my own daughter taking LSD, E, 'shrooms, whatever, ever. And I'm perfectly OK with my hypocrisy.

But I wouldn't mind taking that trip one more time. Guess I'll go back to the theater in disguise: more or less unclothed, with blades of grass sticking to my hair.