During their years together, the Beatles were stars on the charts, at the movies, and in the world of animation. King Features, who had made The Beatles animated TV series, took the band in an animated state to the big screen in 1968 with the movie Yellow Submarine. It is set in a land under the sea called Pepperland, where a band of Blue Meanies plan to rid the land of its music. With a series of weapons, the Meanies put most of Pepperland in a state of suspended animation. The only person who escapes their meanness is Old Fred (Lance Percival), who gets in a yellow submarine to find help. His travels through the seas being him to Liverpool, where he finds Ringo, who agrees to help, then rounds up his mates.
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It is rough sailing, though, for the quintet. Their sea encounters, which include sea monsters and time out of control, lead to an unexpected detour. They do find some help, though, when they meet Jeremy Hilary Boob (Dick Emery), a learned man left alone with his thoughts. It is there that Jeremy is persuaded come along and to help Fred and the Beatles to find the way back to Pepperland. When the Meanies kidnap Jeremy, the others now have an added rescue mission.
Yellow Submarine is based on the Beatles' 1966 hit and written for the screen by a quintet of writers that include the movie's producer, Al Brodax, Love Story author Erich Segal, and uncredited contributions by English poet Roger McGough. The animation, much of which was developed by poster artist Heinz Edelmann, is simple, yet creative. He made the Beatles look mod without exaggerating personal features. There is TV-style animation, but there are also sequences, such as the "Eleanor Rigby" portion of the film, that combine photography and animation. This was a technique that was unique in its day. A form of animation tracing called rotoscoping creates a dazzling sequence for the song "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." Songs making their initial appearance in the film include "Hey Bulldog" and "All Together Now." The team of animators was headed by George Dunning, who received director credit. Even though kids can enjoy this, children aren't the main audience. It gives people of all ages who are Beatles fans a fresh way of looking at the band.
The cast itself is very small. The Beatles themselves appear at the very end of the picture, and all of the songs are performed by them. Besides Emery and Percival, the vocal cast includes John Clive (voice of John Lennon), Geoff Hughes (voice of Paul McCartney), Paul Angelis (voices of George Harrison and Ringo Starr). These men do reasonable impersonations of the Fab Four, and give them distinct personalities. John is the learned one, Paul is the handsome one, George is the enlightened one, and Ringo, much like Ringo himself in A Hard Day's Night, is the lonely one. Angelis and Emery also voice the minor characters, which consist of the Chief Blue Meanie (Angelis) and Lord Mayor of Pepperland and Blue Meanie henchman Max (Emery). The booklet included with Yellow Submarine also credits Peter Batten, who also did some of the voice part of George before Angelis replaced him. During the recording, Batten, who did not receive an onscreen credit, was arrested, as he had gone AWOL from the British Army. He never did another film role.
I never bought the first DVD release of Yellow Submarine in 1999, but I suspect that some of the commentary used there was also used in the 2012 reissue, which restores the film frame by frame. The running commentary, for example, is provided by production supervisor John Coates (who also had a long association with Dunning), with some remarks by Edelmann, who died in 2009. Coates's remarks refer to three surviving Beatles and to the movie being some thirty years old, which are obviously dated. The DVD extras also include a brief reminiscence by Segal, who died in 2010. The DVD package also includes reproduced cels of each Beatle, as well as a lovely testimonial by Pixar writer, producer, and director John Lasseter.
Yellow Submarine sets the Beatles hit song and many other tunes to animation in a way their TV series did not do. The movie updates the animated images of the Fab Four and takes them to a land where music is threatened by a mob of music haters. The Beatles know that the Blue Meanies must be stopped, and they have just the remedy for restoring balance to Pepperland. The spoken word is bolstered greatly by the music that accompanies it. Yellow Submarine is a delightful flight of imagination that reminds everyone that the Blue Meanies should never get the upper hand.
This is an entry in the Favorite Movie Stars write-off hosted by swooshfan2. Entries are found here - http://www.epinions.com/content_5624995972