Across the Universe (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Sony Pictures

The best thing about this special edition of the 2007 musical Across the Universe (love story set in the 1960s with Beatles songs performed by the actors) isn’t the extended musical numbers, the commentary, or the behind-the-scenes footage. It’s the book that comes with the package: a 300-page jewel-case-size compendium by Rough Guides, covering everything from Lennon and McCartney’s famous meeting thorough the band’s disintegration on the set of Let It Be. There are also complete song-, disc- and filmographies, a chapter on the “fifth Beatle” (14 of them, including Billy Preston and Yoko), and a chapter called “Beatleosity: Being a Short Diversion on Four Aspects of Musical Fabness.” Author Chris Ingham, a musician himself, discusses Ringo’s drumming, John’s sense of rhythm, Paul’s bass playing and George’s “harmonic gloom,” without being at all pretentious or alienating. Makes Shout! and the Hunter Davies books seem like real yawners. And to think, you get the DVD Across the Universe with it.