Julie Taymor seems fated to direct a musical based on Beatle's songs - when an approach for a Broadway version fell through, the opportunity quickly re-established itself through Revolution Studios, who specifically wanted Taymor for the job.

The services of British screenwriters, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, had already been secured for the project, who were working on the premise of a transatlantic love story set in the 1960s with a class dimension incorporated for added dramatic tension.

Meanwhile, Taymor's original concept for the theatre production involved moving the action between the 1960s and today.

But when the three got together to work up the story, neither the shifting time frame nor the class issue made the cut.

As she explained, 'We Americans don't have that [class] concept in the same way, but we have other wars that we fought - race, feminism, Vietnam - so I said let's really explore everything that was happening then.'

The working title of the movie was 'All you need is love'. But Taymor felt this didn't reflect the darker journey that characters in this period often took - as she knew from personal experience from her own family.

'This [project] is the most personal for me in that it's based on my own brother and sister. I was young, but I was aware,' she points out. As a result, Evan Rachel Wood's character, Lucy, is portrayed as a political activist, alongside Lucy's brother, Max, played by Joe Anderson.

Newcomer, Jim Sturgess, completes the trio of main characters, creating dramatic tension as the love interest, Jude. Unusually for a project of this size, the period from developing the story to filming was only nine months.

'I can't explain how fast this process was. That's because the Beatle's songs existed and they became the libretto,' Taymor says. In fact, the final version of the movie, at 133 minutes, contains only 30 minutes of dialogue, interspersed between 33 Beatles numbers.

For Taymor, both the commercial and artistic success of the movie, are tied in this utilization of the music.

'When I first met with Sony International [Revolution's partner in the project], they were worried that it wouldn't do well because it was a musical and you couldn't dub it. But I said 'It's the Beatles!' The Beatles transcend culture. They're great lyrics and most everybody will know those lyrics. But even if they didn't, the delivery of the lyrics will transcend the language barrier.'

Even the movie's eventual title, which was Taymor's choice, deliberately echoes this sentiment. That theory will be tested as 'Across the Universe' begins its international release this month, but so far the signs are looking good.