Yellow Submarine is a psychedelic 1968 animated movie, that doesn't quite starThe Beatles (though their songs feature prominently, and they have a cameo appearance at the end). It was directed by George Dunning with art designs by Heinz Edelmann.When Blue Meanies attack the strange and magical undersea utopia of "Pepperland", Old Fred is sent off in a near-omnipotent submarine to find help. He ends up in Liverpool, where he convinces Ringo Starr and his three "mates" to return with him. Along the way, stuff happens. Very weird stuff. With Beatles music all throughout and art in the style of Heinz Edelmann, the return voyage to Pepperland is... quite a 'trip'. Can the Beatles save Pepperland and its citizens with The Power of Rock? Or will the Blue Meanies end the free and open dissemination of music, which they find horrifically painful, once and for all?Yellow Submarine was a groundbreaking animation film for its time, featuring a lot of psychedelic, colourful and imaginative imagery. The artwork wasn't always technically perfect, and the story was more a surreal parade of scenes than a coherent plot, but this film certainly showed new visions of what animation could do. Thus it has become a Cult Classic.The Yellow SubmarineCult Soundtrack to the film is generally received in a less favourable light. Only four songs ("All Together Now", "Hey Bulldog", "It's All Too Much", "Only A Northern Song") are new original material, the rest had appeared on previous Beatles albums before, which are Revolver ("Yellow Submarine") and Magical Mystery Tour ("All You Need Is Love"). All other tracks on the album are orchestral music by George Martin, explaining why this album is often considered the one that hardcore Beatles fans can live without.A motion-capture remake of the cartoon was to be directed by Robert Zemeckis and in pre-production, but is currently dead thanks to his previous movie flopping.
Adaptation Expansion: The original song only describes a trip "beneath the waves, til we found a Sea of Green," and while that's still a goal of the movie (as the Sea of Green leads to Pepperland), there are many more seas the Beatles find themselves in before reaching the Sea of Green. The actual Sea of Green sequence only takes about ten seconds!
And Starring: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Even though the Beatles probably spend more time disguised as the band than the actual band's screentime. Rectified in the extended cut, where the real Sergeant Pepper and his band help the Beatles defeat a group of canine Meanies to the tune of "Hey Bulldog".
Angrish: Old Fred: Uhh... [gibberish] ... MUSIC ... [gibberish] ...BLUE... [gibberish] ...SUBMARINE...EXPLOSIONS...BLUE MEEAAANIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIES!!!
Max: Yes, Your Blueness! Chief Meanie: [enraged] WHAAAT? We Meanies only take "no" for an answer! Is that understood, Max? Max: No, Your Blueness! Chief Meanie: [instantly mollified] Thaaaaat's better.
Band Land: Pepperland is a rare non-video game example.
Born in the Theatre: Most evident when the Vacuum Monster eats the 'screen,' and when the live-action Beatles cameo at the end.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: John addresses the line "You're such a lovely audience we'd like to take you home with us" directly to the viewer. The entire live-action sequence at the end of the film also does this.
Butt Monkey: Ringo for the good guys, and Max for the Blue Meanies.
The Cameo: The Beatles had so little interest in this production that they did not even bother to record their own voices; the four "Beatles" in the movie are voiced by actors. But John, Paul, George, and Ringo did somewhat grudgingly appear in a live-action cameo that closes the film.
John: Hey lads. Now Ringo's gone. What do we do? Fred: Learn to sing trios. Paul: Naaaw, let's save the poor devil!
Contrived Coincidence: The Beatles just happen to be perfect physical duplicates to the legendary Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band. (In modern DVD cut they are implied to be linked to each other in some odd metaphysical fashion.) Lampshaded to a degree when the Lord Mayor meets them.
Lord Mayor: It's quite uncanny! Your faces! Paul:We're quite cute, reallynote Paul was often referred to at "The cute one". Lord Mayor: You could pass for the originals! John: We ARE the originals. Lord Mayor: No, no ... Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band! George: They couldn't be much with a name like that!
There was also a UK broadcast version pieced together by The BBC from the available footage. This also included "Hey Bulldog" but omits some of the scenes that eventually (ahem) surfaced in the remaster.
Fred: Sir! Sir! The Blue Meanies are coming! Lord Mayor: Not h-here, young Fred. They w-wouldn't dare. Fred: They would! They are! What are you going to do? Lord Mayor:Finish the quartet. Chief Meanie: FIRE! [The Meanies keep firing away; one of the foursome is turned to stone by a Meanie's arrow and Fred catches his instrument] Fred: Trio, sir. [He starts plucking away, as another is turned to stone] Duet, sir. Lord Mayor: ...Duet?! [And a third is turned to stone] Fred: Solo. [He takes a whack at playing all three violins at once] Lord Mayor:[Awkward beat as the realization hits him] ...Y-Young Fred! THE BLUE MEANIES ARE COMING!!!
Don't forget when the lads are in Pepperland, and infiltrate a marching squad of Bonkers:
Meanie Squad Leader: Sound off! (The Bonkers start marching in a column of 4.) Bonkers (from front to rear): (marching) A-one, two, three, hm! A-one, two, three, hm! A one, two, three, hm! George (offscreen): Five. Meanie Squad Leader: (perplexed) FIVE? (Camera pulls back to reveal the lads stacked to Bonker height, wielding an apple. They march up to the rear Bonker and bonk his head with the apple. The Bonker falls down stunned, and the lads take his place. The squad leader shakes his head and gets the column going again.) Meanie Squad Leader: Sound off! Bonkers (from front to rear): (marching) A-one, two, three. George (offscreen): Four. Bonkers (from front to rear): (marching) A-one, two, three. George (offscreen): Four. Bonkers (from front to rear): (marching) A-one, twoŚ (Another bonking.) George: Three. Meanie Squad Leader: (confused again) Three? (Yet another bonking.) George: Two. Meanie Squad Leader: (angrily confused and wild-eyed) TWO?! (Even more bonking.) George: One. Meanie Squad Leader: (bewildered) One?! (The last bonker drops his apple as he goes down, hitting the squad leader's head and sending him reeling.)
Ejection Seat: The steersman's chair turns out to be one when Ringo presses the Panic Button.
Evil Laugh: The Blue Meanies, especially the Chief.
Face Palm: When an apple falls on a Blue Meanie's head, the meanie does this. Also Paul's reaction to Ringo's "Sub Scribers" pun.
George: Ah, you're nuts, the pair of yer. Fred: If we slip back through time at this rate, very soon we'll all disappear up our own existence. Ringo: Open your mouth, love, it won't hurt. (Coaxing John to make the word "LOVE" appear out of his mouth, of course. What else could it be?)
As well as John asking Jeremy "who the Billy Shears" he is.
Paul saying, "Hey, let's show him our motor!"
John: Steady. I mean, you don't wanna be showin' your motor to just anybody.
The line Can I take my friend to bed? in All Together Now.
Gone Horribly Right: When Jeremy repairs the sub's engine, it starts up and goes zooming off into the distance with Old Fred helpless to stop it, leaving everybody else behind.
Also, a line spoken by John during "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band": "You're such a lovely audience. We'd like to take you home with us. We'd love to take you home."
Of course the latter is a quote from the actual song and therefore pre-dates the film.
Info Drop: The animators almost seem to deliberately distract you when Fred accidentally drops all of the instruments in the Sea of Monsters, and the Beatles don't even mention it until they reach Pepperland. The only hint before that is when the Beatles play air instruments during the Nowhere Man sequence.
Instrumental: George Martin's orchestral music on the album and the soundtrack.
Jerkass: The Beatles to Jeremy. Being a Nowhere Man aside, Jeremy is basically a good-hearted soul with many skills. He just has no real purpose or reason for them. The Beatles are snarky to him from the start, and when he even FIXES THE SUB'S MOTOR, the Beatles attempt to just walk off without as much as a thank-you, and then go on to berate him FURTHER via the "Nowhere Man" number, leaving poor Jeremy a hurt, crying mess. Only Ringo takes pity on him at the last minute. And just a few minutes later, when Jeremy fixes one of the Sub's propellers TOO well that the sub accidentally goes into overdrive, John, Paul, and George lose no time sniping at him AGAIN. And AGAIN, only Ringo defends him.
Jeremy actually seems to enjoy the "Nowhere Man" number, at least until the group starts to leave him (which still leaves everyone but Ringo looking awful, since they justify leaving Jeremy with "He's happy enough, going around in circles" while the poor guy is crying).
Part of what may have caused the film to underperform in its original release-keep in mind, this made when the Beatles were at the height of their popularity and people still avoided the film. Richard Williams even points this out in his book "The Animator's Survival Kit".
The film never got a full release in the UK. When Submarine was first released in London in July 1968, Rank, the British distributor, reported low figures justifying cutting the film's release to half the circuit. Several days later, challenged with capacity business receipts, Rank denied making the previous statement. Richard Lester, director of A Hard Day's Night and Help, pointed out that three films with less box-office had received a general release, but Yellow Submarine had not. "...This whole thing about releases is so bizarre. I've been looking up some figures, out of my own interest, because of this Yellow Submarine thing, and it's very sinister. You find things like The Magnificent Two and The Long Duel and The Jokers which did in the West End about two thousand pounds a week getting a full circuit release, and Yellow Submarine which did eleven thousand pounds in the West End not getting it. Strangely enough, the first three I spoke about were all Rank films."
Movie #16 Winter 1968-69 p.26 "Interview with Richard Lester"
"Inside the Yellow Submarine" Dr. Robert Hieronimus
Malevolent Architecture: It's clear from Ringo's whining about how nothing ever happens to him that he has never paid attention to what happens inside his mansion. Or he's just bored with it — he no longer seems to notice there's anything strange about the place (partly because at least some of it hides from him).
Jeremy: "Medic, pedic, Zed Oblique. Orfic, Morphic, Dorphic, Greek. Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo — So little time, so much to know!"
Monster Clown: The Meanies use really freaky looking clowns (known as "Countdown Clowns") as an alarm system. They've got no arms and really do look horrific. The noise they make when they're alarmed REALLY doesn't help. Plus, things tend to explode when you press their squeaky noses.
Mythology Gag: To other songs from the Beatles; such when Fred recites the chorus to Help!, or John introducing himself to "the Alter-Ego Man" as "the Ego Man, Goo Goo G'joob." And in the end when Ringo gave half of his hole to Jeremy and Paul decides to fix it to keep his mind from wondering.
Never Trust a Trailer: The four-minute trailer contains nearly as much footage of live-action Beatles as the entire film does, and with the inclusion of footage of the lads horsing around with the studio equipment implies them actually having something to do with the film's production behind the scenes.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: John suddenly gains the ability to make his words manifest into reality just in time for his "fight" with the Glove. For some reason, live-action Paul can do this by the end of the movie, too.
The movie sort of justifies it by saying that John has "a big mouth", though that could just as easily be sarcasm on their part.
The Power of Love: Literally the power of love when John defeats the Glove with "All You Need Is Love." Then the movie ends with everyone holding hands to "It's All Too Much" and "All Together Now" written in various languages, set to the song of the same name.
Real Song Theme Tune: "Yellow Submarine," of course. It was written in 1966 for the Revolver album. Even the songs that debuted in the film were unused songs that the Beatles had written for other reasons.
Remaster: In preparation for the Blu-ray release, Paul Rutan Jr. and his team restored the original negative in 4K resolution. They feared that using automated computer software to fix the picture quality would erase unique details, and consequently restored each frame of the movie by hand. The resulting Blu-Ray looks stunning thanks to their labors.
Renaissance Man: Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph.D. He describes himself thusly: "Eminent physicist, polyglot classicist, prize-winning botanist, hard-biting satirist, talented pianist — good dentist, too."
Rhymes on a Dime: Jeremy again. As he explains: "If I spoke prose, you'd all find out / I don't know what I talk about."
Rotoscoping: In the "Eleanor Rigby" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" segments
Running Gag: Old Fred's repeated incoherent explanation of what's going on in Pepperland:
Fred: Ggggaakbunkahbdonkaglrigabpbr music lmrapqlifrheabffffunkahhluh blue gegahdahmaeroohthe s-s-submarine nbnhh explosion grfl BLUUEEE MEANNNIEESS!
Later, when they pick up John:
Ringo:(When they pick up John) Now, listen to old Fred. Fred: Ggggaakbunkahbdonkag music lmrapqlffunkah blue gemaeroohthe s-s-submarine nbnhh explosion grfl BLUUEEE MEANNNIEESS!! — So what d'you think? John:[to Ringo] I think it needs a rehearsal.
By the final repetition, John and Ringo are chiming in on the last three syllables:
Fred: Ggggaakbunkahbgmusibluuemaerosubmarinenbnhhexplosion— Fred, John, and Ringo:BLUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEE MEEEEAAAAAAANIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEES!!! George:[to John and Ringo] Ah, you're nuts, the pair of yer.
And again with Ringo and the Panic Button. Poor guy never gets a break in this movie.
Scooby-Dooby Doors: At least three different points in the film could be legitimately claimed as Scooby Dooby Doors moments, though only one features doors outright. In the Beatles' mansion, a weird alien creature, a floating hat, a black guy in a yellow suit, a butterfly, a woman's hand, an eggcup, a tobacco pipe with a face, a rocking horse, a skull and crossbones, Batman, an umbrella and pair of glasses. All going in and out of doors in about five seconds.
Another moment occurs when the Blue Meanies chase the Beatles through Pepperland, after the band inadvertently awakens them from their sleep.
Security Cling: The Lord Mayor jumps into Old Fred's arms during the Blue Meanie attack.
Space Jews: "Are you... blueish? You don't look blueish..." Production supervisor John Coates claims this moment was meant as commentary on the stereotypical casting of Jewish actors as villains. Interestingly, apparently the Blue Meanies were originally planned to be a different color, like red or purple; it was an accident that they turned out blue. Granted, "Blue Meanies" does sound better than "Purple Meanies."
Jeremy: Where ground is soft / most often grows— / Arise! Arise! / Arouse, a rose... a rosy nose??
Technobabble: In a parody of his tendency towards profound pronouncements, Lennon's character attempts to explain the uncanny resemblance between themselves and Sgt. Pepper's Band. The other characters promptly laugh it off and attempt to bash open their glass prison while he's still talking.
It gets better. If you listen closely, John's explanation eventually evolves into some kind of recipenote It sounds like a recipe for scrambled eggs, which was, according to legend, the working title for "Yesterday."
And while John starts talking about relativity, Paul spins around and starts singing the old music-hall number "Any Old Iron" as "Any old Ein, Any old Ein, Any-any-any old Ein-stein".
Trap Door: Ringo pushes a button and drops a monster out of the submarine.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: Just about any of the musical segments (especially "Nowhere Man", "Only a Northern Song", "Eleanor Rigby" and "When I'm 64") could easily pass for 80s style music videos (in content if not for actual animation style).
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: When a monster gets inside the submarine, everyone comments on how incredibly ugly it is until it's driven to tears, at which point they kick it out of the sub.
Later, when Jeremy is also brought to tears by the Beatles singing "Nowhere Man" to him (in their defense, the lyrics are an accurate portrait of him), Ringo is the only one who seems to care that they've hurt Jeremy's feelings, the other Beatles want nothing more to do with him. But Ringo gets him to come along anyway, and he does turn out to be of some assistance.
Ringo: Poor little guy. Paul: I dunno, Ringo is just a sentimentalist.
Zeerust: the title was presented in a pseudo-MICR typeface, that being the 1960s idea of a "futuristic" typeface. (The only relationship most people had with computers being the MICR numbers printed on cheques.)