Throughout Across The Universe, Max Carrigan undergoes many changes due to being drafted and conforming to the U.S. military. An example of one such change is that previous to the war water represented peace and happiness for him, and post serving in the war water just represented violence and what he had seen. One hour and fifty-four minutes into this movie, he is sadly sitting by a body of water and it no longer means what it previously had to him. All he sees is the violent acts he committed while in Vietnam and the bodies that were once floating in it. After enduring all of these events he is changed psychologically and politically.
Fifty-three minutes into the movie Max’s change begins when he goes to get his check up before leaving for Vietnam. This scene also reveals a lot about the politics and issues of that time. The government wasn’t content enough with the willing soldiers, they had to draft the unwilling. They wanted them, ‘they wanted them so bad’. During this scene the soldiers are all synced physically. When the new drafts get put into the boxes with the already conformed soldiers this symbolizes that only their parts matter, and not in fact the man as a whole. Each box that shows a new body part or procedure represents a box that is being checked off on a checklist.
In this same scene, right before they roll off into , they are thrown on their backs and they cover their eyes. Leaving them vulnerable and blind to what is going on in Vietnam. Once in Vietnam the soldiers are stomping on trees, representing the United State’s size in comparison to Vietnam, but yet nothing got done in Vietnam that truly made any change. They are carrying the Statue of Liberty which symbolizes that we were trying to force our views onto them. The smaller version of the statue that Max picks up from the desk represents the fact that each soldier had their own burden to carry. At the very end, he is wrapped up and labeled as a product. Then directly after you see him opening up a Twinkie, a mass produced product, such as conformed soldiers being mass produced from the draft.
During the song Strawberry Fields the television shows what the media presents and deceives the world with, and then the reality of what is happening to soldiers in Vietnam, specifically Max. The deceptions are always shown in black and white, and the reality of what is going on is shown in vivid color. The strawberries stand for blood and the loss of innocence. In the American flag, the red represents blood. At the end of Strawberry Fields, Jude is washing the strawberries off of his clothes but the government and soldiers cannot wash the blood and lost lives from their hands.
By the end of this movie Max is completely changed, water no longer is peaceful to him. All he sees is the bodies that were once there and all the women and children he killed. When he is in the army hospital bed he sings about his ‘fix’ which could have a sexual undertone. The pain killers that were given to them back then sometimes caused addictions, the ‘fix’ could also be a pain killer addiction. Max sings about how he’s happy with a gun. He doesn’t feel safe without a gun after his experiences.