Does the ‘Lucy In the Sky’ Movie Use the Beatles Song?

Lucy In the Sky is not the story of the Beatles classic song. It is the story of astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman), who returns from a space mission and unravels back on Earth. She blows up her family and has an affair with a fellow astronaut (Jon Hamm) that compromises her qualifying for future missions. You can read our review of the film here.

Jon Hamm and Natalie Portman
Jon Hamm and Natalie Portman in Lucy in the Sky | Hilary B. Gayle/ Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

They didn’t just name the film Lucy in the Sky for no reason though. Yes, the song Lucy in the Sky is in the movie, but how the film uses it might surprise you. Director Noah Hawley explained at the film’s Los Angeles press conference. Lucy In the Sky opens Friday, October 4.

The ‘Lucy in the Sky’ in the movie is not the song you know

Hawley did use Lucy in the Sky in the film, but not The Beatles’ version. Hawley hired an artist he’s worked with on television shows to cover the song.

“I worked with Lisa Hannigan before,” Hawley said. “She’d done some work for me on Fargo and on Legion.”

Finding the right scene in ‘Lucy In the Sky’ for the song

The moment in which Lucy In the Sky plays on the soundtrack is when Lucy gets some devastating news. She stands still while the background zooms around and tracks her going to the hospital.

Natalie Portman in Lucy in the Sky
Natalie Portman in Lucy in the Sky | Fox Searchlight Pictures

“To marry it to this kind of magical infinite zoom of her moving through space and time,” Hawley said. “Who among us hasn’t had a crisis where we can’t remember how we got to the hospital? We were so caught up in is she going to be okay? What’s going to happen? How am I going to fix this? That the drive to the hospital never prints in your memory.”

Music is only one of the tools in ‘Lucy in the Sky’

Hawley wanted to create the feeling of Lucy’s existential crisis. Sound, not only music, was one way to put the audience inside Lucy’s character.

“That was my goal with the whole film is to create an evocative sense of what it’s like to be her that is not necessarily literal, but really makes you feel the feeling that she has,” Hawley said. “We can have that experience in the theater. The sound can work to our advantage. I always like to think about what are we taking for granted as storytellers.”

The screen of ‘Lucy In the Sky’ changes too

Hawley experimented with changing the shape of the screen on Legion. Some scenes of Legion had black bars simulating a movie screen, depending on the timeframe or psychological state of the character. Lucy In the Sky opens and closes the screen on all sides depending on Lucy’s state of being.

“There’s a specific moment in the center of the film in which our central box closed down even farther. All of it was designed to simulate her feelings and the pressure that she was under. Obviously, in a perfect world, you may notice the first time, the second time but then you stop noticing. If you resist it as a technique and you’re outside of it, it may interrupt your enjoyment of the film, but if you can go with it and immerse yourself, I think it heightens the experience.”

Noah Hawley, Lucy in the Sky press conference 9/25/19
Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm
Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm in Lucy in the Sky | Hilary B. Gayle/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Sometimes Hawley had fun with it too.

“Now, I’m also a playful filmmaker so I can’t say there aren’t playful elements in it as well,” Hawley said. “There’s certainly one where the box shifts and shifts again. So I never tried to use it as an earnest tool but it is designed to be a tool and not a gimmick.”