“The Lennon/McCartney songs used in the film seem to have been conceived and brought forth in the pure simple spirit of mystical innocence, like the works of Chagall. And, like Chagall’s works, the film tries to include everything in the world to make up its own cosmos. The animation style ranges from storybook simplicity to pop art and psychedelic shimmer.”–Punch magazine
DIRECTED BY: George Dunning
FEATURING: Voices of Paul Angelis, John Clive, Geoffrey Hughes, Peter Batten, Dick Emery
PLOT: The music-hating Blue Meanies freeze the residents of the idyllic undersea kingdom of Pepperland. Only Admiral Fred escapes in his Yellow Submarine; he travels to Liverpool to enlist the assistance of the Beatles to deal with the threat. After a sailing through several surreal seas, the lads eventually reach Pepperland and use the power of music to defeat the menace.
- Yellow Submarine was animator/director George Dunning’s only feature length work. His job here consisted mainly of supervising the 200+ contributing artists who worked on the film.
- In 1968 the Beatles were disenchanted with movies after the mediocre reception to their self-produced television special Magical Mystery Tour (1967). They were still under contract to United Artists to produce another film and, despite the fact that they weren’t happy with the Americanized Beatles animated TV show, they saw lending their images and four new songs to a cartoon movie as a good way to fulfill their bargain. They liked the finished product well enough to agree to appear in a live-action epilogue.
- The script was co-written by Erich Segal, a professor of classics at Yale who had never even heard of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” when he was hired for the project. Segal later wrote the deplorable novel Love Story, which was turned into an even more deplorable movie.
- Liverpool poet Roger McGough also worked on the script, supplying many of the jokes and puns, but did not receive a screenwriting credit.
- Peter Batten, who voiced George, was discovered by the producers in a pub and cast because he sounded like Harrison. He was later found to have deserted the British army during WWII and was arrested before filming was completed; his remaining lines were recorded by Paul Angelis (who also voiced Ringo).
- The “Hey Bulldog” segment was cut for American theatrical release.
- A 3-D motion capture remake was planned by Disney but scrapped in 2011, to the delight of thinking people everywhere.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Picking out a favorite frame from Yellow Submarine is like picking a favorite note from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The psychedelic submersible of the title should probably be featured, but what bizarre pop-art backdrop should it be floating past—the gray and grimy industrial wastes of Liverpool, the optical netherworld of the Sea of Holes, or the lysergic bestiary of the Sea of Monsters? We selected the moment the sub transforms itself into a Zippo lighter to re-enact an old slapstick routine with a giant purple boxing beast, but we wouldn’t put up an argument with just about any random image anyone wanted to champion.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Blurring the line between a children’s story and a hashish-fueled daydream, Yellow Submarine is a riot of color and visual imagination sure to delight kindergartners and stoners alike. You don’t even have to picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies—over a hundred animators worked for almost a year to paint those vistas for you better than your feeble imagination could ever manage.
Original trailer for Yellow Submarine
COMMENTS: We often think of the Sixties in terms of revolutions: the sexual revolution, the civil Continue reading 128. YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968)