Movie Review: Yellow Submarine

There’s nothing quite like it. The colors, the music, the experience that is Yellow Submarine.

I first saw clips of it on The Beatles Anthology tapes. It stuck in mind as I knew that one day, I needed to have a copy of the film. Sure enough, I got the most recent print a year ago on DVD as a birthday gift. Regardless of whether or not you’re a Beatles fan, this is one film that does deserve attention as being a different animated film.

The plot in the most basic form is that Pepperland is under attack by the Blue Meanies and the Beatles are called in to help save the day. It’s a road trip movie, minus the road. All of the different seas featured employ varying techniques from rotoscoping during “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, the flood of photos as the submarine enters the first sea, and the strobing during “Only a Northern Song” just to name a few. The “Eleanor Rigby” sequence is particularly interesting to watch as the submarine floats through London and we see all the lonely people.

The dialogue, while a little hard to understand at times, is filled with references to other Beatles songs, puns, and even The Sound of Music. There were moments when I had to turn the subtitles on just so I could make some sense of the murmuring.

The visuals are indeed psychedelic. With some aforementioned strobing here and there, it can cause headaches as I’ve found out after showing this to some friends who said “it’s all too much”. Anyone in animation should watch this as a springboard for ideas in a visual style. The closest current show that I can think of that employs a lot of different media styles would be Sesame Street. Yellow Submarine did have influence on some of their segments. The variety of styles and the energy that is found within is something that can be re-introduced to today’s generation.

Of course, if you want an “ultimate” British invasion, you can sync this up with “Dark Side of the Moon” for a “Pink Submarine.” Start the CD when “Once Upon A Time” appears and just loop it until the end. I’ve done it before (sober of course) and it works rather well. It does seem odd putting the Beatles with Pink Floyd but it’s worth a try if you’re looking for something other than Dark Side of the Rainbow.

Yellow Submarine is one where you can get by with watching it just once, although you may want to return to Pepperland just for the visuals. Any animation major needs to see this. It’s not Disney (and it won’t thanks to the cancelled 3D remake) but if you’re looking for something different, check it out.


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