We are all aware of the stories, some true some not, about drugs in Vietnam as well as places like The Village and of course The Beatles themselves. Generally we hear of LSD but all of that is about "drugs by choice" or recreational drugs.
The far more disastrous drug however was Heroin, used for pain relief for many hundreds of thousands of soldiers wounded in Vietnam, and of course that has always been kept as secret as possible by HAL, because as J Doe watches a war on TV he does not want to be bored by facts or nasties as he is entertained. HAL perfected all that for Iraq by "embedding" the media into the "frontline" so as to be in full LAUNDER mode, as HAL learned from the Napalm Girl Fraud.
Across the Universe does deal with this issue, but of course Taymor has once again called in Prudence with her closets and masks to allow the issue to be codified.
In Australia I was born 6 Jan 1945, just 6 days too late to have avoided the whole draft scheme. Then with 1 in 9 chance of my birth date being drawn in the "Lottery of Death", it WAS drawn, so like Max I was the only one in my circle of friends called up. On the lucky side, after 2 years exemption to complete my engineering degree, as an engineer I was allocated to a base workshop facility, essentially making sure the front line troops had Hueys etc that were in good mechanical order, so I was spared the agony and even the knowledge of Heroin addiction.
Fast forward 45 years and in my retirement in 2011 I was formatting books to Kindle for numerous authors, one of whom was Ron Shepherd who was enlisted at the same time as me, but from America. So we became sort of long distance "brothers-in-arms". Now when I did his third book he said it is called "To Waltz with a White Horse" so I found a Shadowfax like horse as below and emailed the cover for his approval.
Ron said lovely horse but the book is about the heroin white horse, so I added a syringe, per:
And Ron said fine, let's go with that, but as with all the books I format, I did not read the story in any detail as I did the formatting. I wished I had as Ron told me that this was the book closest to his own story. Then after doing his last two books it seems he died [Aug 2011], apparently FROM the effects of the Heroin as detailed in the story.
I was not able to contact his wife or access his Amazon account so I sadly just forgot about Ron, until watching Across the Universe when I decided I needed to be educated on Henry, so I read the whole story and it blew my mind, especially read in conjunction with Taymor's movie and the Happiness is a Warm Gun segment. That is to say, while Taymor had to step lightly on this Politically Correct matter where HAL is saving millions by closing down vet hospitals and letting the vets die, Ron tells it as it is - and it is not pretty.
So if you too want to read the book here is the page on Kindle. In fact here is the combined Home Page I did for his 5 books. If too mean to buy the book you can click on the book thumbnail and read the flippage for the Prologue and Chapter 1, and you will get the picture.
So whatever John may have denied about Happiness is a Warm Gun [as he always did for his own amusement], in my view Taymor has got it totally spot on with her depiction of the vet hospital. I am thinking she made it round to signify that this aspect of the war was "just part of the whole circus", or simply "Because the World is Round it turns me on".
I took the Mother Superior bit to infer that this was simply the Stairway to Hell where there were "2 ways you could go by but in the long run, you still ended up in Hell", that is to say you died from your injury or from the Horse, and HAL did not really care, because J Doe did not really care [as shown by Lucy on phone to mum]. So Mother Superior jumps the gun in pronouncing a bloke dead [and exits stage left] when in fact he still had a few more rides on the Horse.
We see the "sudden kick of the Horse" [as Ron graphically describes] once Max gets his fix, but I would love to have been able to ask Ron about the Blue color as Henry kicks, as we saw with Max, as well as the "warm guns" being Blue.
There is a lot in the movie displaying the classic Psychedelic effect of LSD, with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds [in the Credits] said to stand for LSD, as Taymor seems to agree, but the Blue aspect reminds me that [Spoiler Alert!!] the nurse attending Ron is described as having vivid blue eyes.
Back to Henry, John changed the name of the horse in the poster to Henry, of course saying it was not about drugs, but the BBC banned Mr Kite. So we see Henry the [White] Horse come Waltzing in on roller skates past Jude, Lucy and friends and Max notices Prudence is in fact riding him, with a white mask. I guess Taymor is just continuing her analogy with closet=secret=mask so she calls on Prudence once again, while Mr K is saying don't worry kiddies, this is all a bit complicated etc.
Prudence demounts and joins the gang while introducing her new girlfriend as being a contortionist, which is "8 miles high" over my head right now, but I am thinking it is an in-joke [of a sexual nature if you get my drift - think Greer and her 1970 Article for the Times] once again about Ellen Degenerate [sic] etc "coming out" to help their ratings.
From then on we see a totally different "personality" for Max, or rather the removal of his personality as he just sits and contemplates. At the end he has recovered enough to drive a cab and he explains to Jude "that is I think it's not too bad [to paraphrase Strawberry Fields], I'm fine from the neck down. The "feelgood" part of all that HORROR is that [as in Ron's book] it is the mateship with Jude that not only helps Jude out of his depression [by appearing as a "ghost" at the Shipperies Pub singing Hey Jude] but also helps himself to regain some of his old vitality, but movie remains silent as to longer term effects [both for Max and the loving couple].