Despite recent controversy over Julie Taymor and the “Spiderman” on Broadway debacle, she is in my opinion one of the best visual artists of the past few decades. I first gained interest in her when I saw her 2007 film “Across the Universe”. I watched the entire movie enthralled, but the best part was seeing the end credit fade onto the screen that said “Directed by Julie Taymor”. I was so excited to leave the movie inspired by the visual and auditory mastery, but I was just as excited to see that it had been directed by a woman.
Although it was my first time hearing about Taymor, she had already been accomplishing great career successes. She had already won a Tony for best costume design and was the first woman to win a Tony for direction of “The Lion King.” After such acclaim in the theatre world she made the transition into film where the only thing that rivaled her creativity was her persistence. “She's a fierce artist from the theater who believes in the power of her visual imagination. She will fight to the death to protect her art” (Thomson). When Revolution Studios’ chairman Joe Roth screened a shorter version of “Across the Universe” to an audience without Taymor’s knowledge, she didn’t let him get away with it. She fought to keep her cut as the final product that people would see and she succeeded.
Although there were mixed reviews of “Across the Universe”, it seemed like the well known critics were just as intrigued by it as I was. Rodger Ebert said that “Across the Universe” “is an audacious marriage of cutting-edge visual techniques, [and] heart-warming performances...” and even goes so far as to say that Taymor is a “choreographer” of visual images. The film also graced the top of the lists of notable critics as one of the best films of 2007.
In an interview Taymor describes her process as an inspiration of sorts. She is inspired by music, magazines and most importantly, words. “Words inspire me a lot to my visual imagery” says Taymor. But perhaps her ideology that I agree the most with, especially in this time where big budget movies seem to lack any artistic drive, is that cinema comes first. Yes, she was given 45 million to create this film, but it was spent to create a big budget film with an unexpected artistic and experimental motivation. She says “It’s got art in it, but not at the expense of entertainment.”
Ebert, Rodger. "Across the Universe." Chicago Times 14 September 2007: n. pag. Web. 28 Apr 2011. <http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070913/REVIEWS/709130301>.