A recently restored 4K restoration of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine with full 5.1 Dolby sound has made its way into theaters and it’s absolutely perfect.
Yellow Submarine introduces us to a paradise known as Pepperland. Pepperland is located some 80,000 leagues under the sea. There may not be an Octopus’ Garden but music is king in Pepperland.
When the Blue Meanies start to attack, Lord Mayor tells Old Fred to take the Yellow Submarine and find help. Old Fred finds help in the form of The Beatles. Once The Beatles come aboard, they journey through the Seas of Time, Science, Monsters, Nothing, Foothills of the Headlands, Holes, and Green. While in the Sea of Nothing, Ringo feels sorry for Jeremy Hillary Boob Ph.D. and invites him on the journey. The Nowhere Man soon becomes a Somewhere Man. Once they journey to Pepperland, The Beatles disguise themselves as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Like with other musicals, Yellow Submarine is less of a plot-driven film than it is music-driven. Outside of the fact that the Blue Meanies want to attack Pepperland, all that’s in between are musical numbers featuring The Beatles. There’s not a tune here that you will want to fast forward through!
The Beatles themselves only make an appearance during the live-action scene at the end of the film. The animated personas of The Beatles are inspired by their appearance in the “Strawberry Fields Forever” promo video. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t voice their animated counterparts. Personally, this is a disappointment. When you want to see The Beatles on screen, you want to hear THEIR VOICES, not other actors. I get that this is because their lack of interest at the time. Thankfully, the band appeared in the film’s closing scene to fulfill their deal with United Artists. The other films in the deal being A Hard Day’s Night and Help!
Most of their musical contributions are from older albums but there were some new songs provided for both the film and subsequent soundtrack album. These songs being “All Together Now,” “Hey Bulldog,” and two George Harrison-penned songs, “Only A Northern Song” and “It’s All Too Much.” It was said that they weren’t really interested in doing the project but only increased their enthusiasm upon seeing the finished project.
John Clive, Geoffrey Hughes, and Paul Angelis do a great job at capturing the spirit of The Beatles. Except for Hughes’ voicing of Paul McCartney, I couldn’t tell a difference. For what it’s worth, it doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film.
Once the music gets going, one can’t help but want to sing along. Having just watched the film on the big screen for the first time, I had to restrain myself from singing along out loud! They pick a lot of quality songs form their catalog for placement within the film.
The animation behind Yellow Submarine is without a doubt a watershed achievement for its time. The animated visuals speaks to the audience of the late 1960s so of course, it’s going to be psychedelic in nature. Yet some 50 years following the release, the film is able to stand the test of time.
DIRECTORS: George Dunning
SCREENWRITERS: Lee Minoff and Al Brodax & Jack Mendelsohn and Erich Segal
CAST: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Paul Angelis, John Clive, Dick Emery, Geoffrey Hughes