Across the Universe

And...Other Movies to Teach the 1960s!

Themes and Concepts of the 1960s

- Change

- Turbulence

- Violence

- Loss

- Culture v. Counter-Culture

- Hippie Movement

- Civil Rights

- Vietnam War

Why Use Movies to Teach the 1960s?

The 1960s is one of the most interesting, yet complex decades in American History. The Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, Hippie Movement, and the Cold War all characterize this decade. The active nature of this decade lends itself to the big screen. Movies with literally make this decade come alive for students.

Why Across the Universe?

It captures multiple aspect of the 1960s. It also features multiple songs by the Beatles. The way that the movie is structured allows the teacher to show the entire film or to simply show certain clips. The music and the way the movie was filmed gives students a visual and a feeling of the atmosphere of the 1960s.

The best scenes for instruction

Let It Be (Across The Universe)

Discussion Questions for Let it Be

1. What does this scene say about the atmosphere of the 1960s?

2. What was life like for African Americans during this time period?

3. Why do you think that the director decided to intertwine these two stories together?

4. How does the song Let it Be impact the atmosphere of the scene?

Across the Universe - I Want You (She's So Heavy)

Discussion Questions for I Want You

1. How did the director choose to portray Uncle Sam?

2. How is the military portrayed in this film? What political statement is the director making about the military through this portrayal?

3. How does Max attempt to evade military service?

4. Why did the director have the characters carry the Statue of Liberty through Vietnam? Why is it larger than Vietnam in the scene?

5. Based on the scene, what do you think the director believes about the war in Vietnam?

Across The Universe - Strawberry Fields Forever

Discussion Questions for Strawberry Fields Forever

1. What do the Strawberry Fields represent in this song?

2. What does this scene say about the experience of American soldiers fighting in Vietnam?

3. How are American actions in Vietnam portrayed?

Across The Universe - Revolution

Discussion Questions for Revolution

1. The Beatles are originally supporters of the anti-war movement. According to this song, why do they now have a problem with it?

2. Why is there a reference to Chairman Mao?

3. What is the overall message of this song?

How Could You Use This Movie?

I think that this movie could be used in two ways.


1. A teacher could show the whole movie (minus two inappropriate scenes) and have discussion questions for students to think about as the watch the movie. After the movie the teacher could have the students write an essay with the following prompt: What do you believe is the theme of the 1960s? How does the movie Across the Universe support this theme? Support your answer with specific examples from the movie.


2. A teacher could also show specific scenes from the movie to go with different lessons. The Let it Be scene could be used in an introduction lesson to the 1960s. I Want You and Strawberry Fields Forever could be used during a lesson on the Vietnam War. The Revolution scene could be used during a lesson on the anti-war movement. Students could answer the discussion questions in groups or individually.

Other Great 1960's Movies

General Ways to Use These Movies in the Classroom

1. Shows clips from the movies as they relate to different lesson plans

2. Assign students a movie to watch and have them create a product inspired by that movie

3. Have students pick from a list of movies and then present a presentation to the class about how the movie portrays the 1960s