An Animated Musical from 1968 that doesn't quite star The Beatles, produced by Al Brodax and King Features Productions and directed by George Dunning, the creators of the Beatles Saturday morning cartoon.
Once upon a time, or maybe twice, there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland, a magical under-sea utopia of peace, love and music. When the land is ravaged by the evil Blue Meanies, a race physically harmed by music and all things positive, the Lord Mayor sends a man named Fred off in the titular submarine to find help. He ends up in Liverpool, where he convinces Ringo Starr and his three "mates" to return with him and save the day with love, friendship, and rock music. Along the way, stuff happens. Very weird stuff.
Best remembered for its one-of-a-kind psychedelic animation (designed by Heinz Edelmann), it's now considered the Ur-Example of the Animated Music Video, with most of the film consisting of short, usually abstract vignettes set to Beatles recordings. What it lacks in coherent narrative, it more than makes up for in colorful and imaginative imagery, showing just what animation outside of Disney was capable of. All in all, it's quite a trip.
For the page about the film's Cult Soundtrack, see here.
This film provides examples of:
- Acid-Trip Dimension: Save the scenes in Liverpool, every setting is this!
- Hell, even Liverpool is this! Only Ringo seems to be oblivious to it.
- Adaptation Expansion: The original song only mentioned that they "sailed 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!
- Affably Evil: The Chief Blue Meanie, who is actually quite friendly when conversing with Max.
- All There in the Manual: The Bonkers, Snapping Turks and Dreadful Flying Glove are the only creatures in the Blue Meanies' army who are named in the film proper, but both production notes and supplementary materials names all of them: the clowns are the "Countdown Clowns," the cats are "The Butterfly Stompers," the bald men with pistols in their shoes are "The Hidden Persuaders" and the guys with snakes for hands are "The Jack-The-Nippers."
- Ambiguously Gay: The boss of the Blue Meanies. It's hard to tell whether he's supposed to be Camp Gay or an Evil Aristocrat type, since there's a fine line between camp and effete.
- And I Must Scream: The citizens of Meanie-run Pepperland are shown to be bluish-gray and mostly frozen but still conscious, with one young frozen girl visibly crying.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: "Sixty-four years is 33,661,440 minutes, and one minute is a long time. Let us dem-0-1-2-nstrate."
- 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: A panicking Young Fred first explains the situation to Ringo as "Uhh... [gibberish] ... MUSIC ... [gibberish] ...BLUE... [gibberish] ...SUBMARINE...EXPLOSIONS...BLUE MEEAAANIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIES!!!" Amusingly, he keeps giving this account of things to the other Beatles even after he's calmed down.
- Animated Music Video: One of the first.
- Annoying Arrows
- Ringo pulls some out of himself after his 'arrowing experience in the Sea of Monsters.
- The Blue Meanies' guns fire whizzy cartoon arrows complete with cartoony sound effects. They don't kill you if they hit, just remove your colour and make you a slave.
- Apathetic Citizens: Lord Mayor, the Blue Meanies are coming! What will you do? "Finish the quartet!" Justified, in that Lord Mayor thinks that the Blue Meanies "wouldn't dare" actually invade. It doesn't really explain his failure to notice the rest of Pepperland being invaded around him, though...
- Arc Words: "It's all in the mind." Thanks, George. Also a Shout-Out to The Goon Show, of which the Beatles were fans.
- Argentina Is Nazi-Land: Referenced when the routed Meanies consider fleeing there.
- Armed Legs: One class of mooks has shoes that open up to reveal hands holding pistols.
- Autocannibalism: The vacuum monster eats everything in its universe. Eventually it eats itself, mouth last.
- Bad Boss: The Chief Meanie, especially towards Max.
- Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad
- The Blue Meanies take it to the logical extreme by saying "no" instead of "yes".Chief Blue Meanie: Pepperland is a tickle of joy on the blue belly of the universe. It must be scratched. Right, Max?
Max: Yes, Your Blueness!
Chief Blue 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.
- Inverted after the Beatles extend an invitation for the Meanies to socialize:John: Are you with us? Will you join?
Chief Blue Meanie: Shall we?
[the Chief Blue Meanie screams in frustration and picks Max up by his ears]
Max: [stammers as he tries to not say "No"] Yes, Your Newness!
Chief Blue Meanie: Yes, Max.
Jeremy: Ah, "Yes" is a word with a glorious ring, a true, universal, euphonious thing! Engenders embracing and chasing of blues. The very best word for the whole world to use!
- The Blue Meanies take it to the logical extreme by saying "no" instead of "yes".
- Band Land: Pepperland is a rare non-video game example.
- Band Toon: The band in question being The Beatles, of course.
- Berserk Button: The Blue Meanies, especially the Chief, can't stand the sound of music.
- Big Bad: The Chief Blue Meanie.
- Bigger on the Inside: The Beatles' house, the Yellow Submarine itself, the Pepperland bandstand where the confiscated instruments are kept. Really, every interior in the film.
- Bilingual Bonus: The lines from the song All Together Now appear in many different languages on the screen.
- Bluebird of Happiness: Is the Chief Blue Meanie's cousin.
- Boring Return Journey: Inverted. Young Fred's journey from Pepperland to England is summed up in the opening credits. The return journey is more hazardous and takes up the majority of the film's runtime. That said, the return-return journey, meaning the Beatles's return to Liverpool, is completely skipped over.
- 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.
- Brits Love Tea: According to the Novelization, tea is required to submerge the submarine.
- Butt-Monkey: Ringo for the good guys, and Max for the Blue Meanies. Jeremy also takes his fair share of abuse, though he shrugs most of it off with good humour.
- 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. Ironically, when they finally saw it they ended up enjoying it.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Blue Meanies. The name says it all. They're so evil the won't take "yes" for answer regardless of the communication troubles that would cause.
- Casual Danger Dialogue(After being eaten by the Vacuum Monster)
Paul: What should we do?
John: Serve tea.
- George's is "It's all in the mind (y'know)." The production team had also had John drop this line at the end of the "Strawberry Fields" television episode. It may be a Shout-Out to The Goon Show, which sometimes used the phrase in its closing narration.
- Ringo: "I've got a hole in me pocket."
- Jeremy does this in rhyme: "Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo!/So little time, so much to know!"
- Cats Are Mean: The nine catlike Blue Meanies, known as the "Butterfly Stompers." They do, indeed, stomp on butterflies for fun (one of them steps on Max after the Chief blasts him).
- The Cavalry: The U.S. Seventh Cavalry rescues Ringo from attacking Indians.
- Celebrity Toons: The four main characters are, obviously, The Beatles (though they are voiced by different actors), as the film was released during the height of their popularity.
- Chekhov's Gun: Ringo has a hole in his pocket. He uses it to free Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band from their bubble. Later he gives half of it to Jeremy.
- Chewing the Scenery: The Chief Meanie does this a lot.
- Chromosome Casting: Apart from screaming, there are no female speaking roles at all.
- Cloudcuckooland: Ringo's house.
- All four of the Beatles while they're onscreen.
- Jeremy, big time.
- Clown-Car Base: Ringo's house. Complete with Scooby-Dooby Doors!
- Comedic SociopathyJohn: 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 John's Pepperland counterpart explicitly says he's John's alter-ego, implying that they're 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 .
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!
- Crapsack World
- Liverpool is a black and white city with people either frozen or forever stuck in repetitive motions.
- Rather like the enslaved Pepperland, actually, which also counts in its own right.
- Creator Cameo: The real Beatles appear in a live-action segment near the end.
- Cuteness Proximity: The constable in Liverpool is entirely distracted by the cat he's trying to coax. He doesn't even notice the Submarine following Ringo.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: After the other Meanies retreated, the Chief angrily confronts Jeremy:Chief Blue Meanie: I think I'll tear him up into little pieces.
Jeremy: Oh, he does, does he?
Chief: Yes, I think I'll make a boob-burger out of him.
Jeremy: I don't care what you think.
Chief: Oh, you don't, eh? We'll soon see about that.
- Defeat Means Friendship: The defeated Blue Meanies decide to turn good in the end.
- Defrosting Ice King: After losing the battle, the other Meanies make a hasty retreat for the hills, while the Chief angrily confronts Jeremy, who reads from a poem about flowers, and roses start growing all over the Chief Blue Meanie. He starts to cry, makes a Heel–Face Turn, and joins the Beatles and Pepperlanders in celebrating.
- Delusions of Eloquence
Jeremy: Log sine, clog sine, big thingamybob...George: What's he saying?Paul: What's he doing?
- Jeremy occasionally lapses into this when fixing the Yellow Submarine's propeller before the yellow sub takes off without them:
Jeremy: Hydrolyte, verdant chrysoidine, I think we're near the Sea of Gree-en![A Blue Meanie pulls Jeremy through a hole to Pepperland]
- And in the Sea of Holes while seeking the Sea of Green:
- Deranged Animation: Hoo boy!
- Director's Cut
- There are at least two versions of this film — the one seen in most American theaters and available on video until about 1991, and the remastered version that has the "Hey Bulldog" sequence and some changes of pacing and sequencing in that area and available on DVD.
- 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.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Replace "Disney" with "United Artists" and "Sequence" with "Whole Film".
- Even by the standards of the rest of the film, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" is absolutely gloriously psychedelic (which probably didn't help the common perception that the song was secretly about LSD, something the Beatles repeatedly denied).
- Disproportionate Retribution: The Chief Blue Meanie can't stand music, so he conquers Pepperland, imprisoning and silencing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. His henchmeanies confiscate all the musical instruments in Pepperland.
- Doomed Hometown: Pepperland.
- The Dragon: The Dreadful Flying Glove. Not only does he do whatever the Chief Meanie wants, he takes obvious enjoyment from the fear and helplessness of the Pepperlanders.
- Driven to Suicide: Ringo is so bored that he'd jump into the River Mersey, only doesn't because "it looks like rain".
- Dutch Angle: The Liverpool skyline before "Eleanor Rigby" pans down with the chimneytops ascending, with the clock tower in the background descending. Normally, the camera would start with the clock tower and it would descend from the rooftop to the ground.
- Dwindling Party
Fred: Sir! Sir! The Blue Meanies are coming!
- The citizens of Pepperland during the invasion.
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!!!
Meanie Squad Leader: Sound off!
- Also, when the lads are in Pepperland, and infiltrate a marching squad of Bonkers:
(The Bonkers start marching in a column of 4.)
Bonkers (from front to rear): (marching) A-one, two, three, four! A-one, two, three, four! A one, two, three, four!
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, two—
Meanie Squad Leader: (confused again) Three?
(Yet another bonking.)
Meanie Squad Leader: (angrily confused and wild-eyed) TWO?!
(Even more bonking.)
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.)
- Eat the Camera: Chief Blue Meanie does this upon seeing the Dreadful Flying Glove failing to attack Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and falling into the water because of this.
- 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.
- The Dreadful Flying Glove.
- Extra Digits
- The Blue Meanies have six-fingered hands to emphasize their overall wrongness/evilness.
- During the visual counting segment in the last minute and 4 seconds of "When I'm 64", 55, 56 and 57 feature a hand next to 5 with 5, 6 and 7 fingers, including the thumb.
- Face Palm: When an apple falls on a Blue Meanie's head, the meanie does this. Also Paul's reaction to Ringo's "subscribers" pun.
- Failure Is the Only Option: How the Blue Meanies' conquest of Pepperland ultimately ends after the Beatles arrive.
- Feed It a Bomb: Attempted by one denizen of the Sea of Monsters, which shoots a cannonball into the Vacuum Monster's mouth. It makes the monster belch.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Inverted. The human character have five fingers while the Blue Meanies have six.
- Fountain of Youth: While travelling backwards through the Sea of Time, The Beatles and Old Fred regress to childhood and young adulthood respectively. When they end up reversing the change, they end up reversing it a bit too much (see Rapid Aging).
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: During the live-action sequence at the end, John Lennon looks through a spyglass pointed outward toward the audience and announces, "Newer and bluer Meanies have been sighted within the vicinity of this theatre." (Fortunately, there's a way to defeat them: by SINGING!)
- Fun-Hating Villain: the Blue Meanies hate music so much, they invade Pepperland, formerly an idyll full of music and fun, and turn it into a sort of Mordor.
- Gag Nose: The Blue Meanies have long noses. The clown meanie's nose makes a comical noise when it's pressed... and something blows up at random
- Gone Horribly Right: When Jeremy repairs the sub's engine, it starts up and goes zooming off into the distance with Fred helpless to stop it, leaving everybody else behind.
- Go, Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Fred's motivational speech just before the Beatles enter the Submarine.
- Giant Foot of Stomping: Also, feet that shoot guns and hands that have teeth.George: I see footsteps.
Paul: It's a pair of kinky-boot beasts!
John: Preparing to attack.
- Giant Hands of Doom: Again, The Dreadful Flying Glove.
- Good Hurts Evil: Blue Meanies don't like good music spreading through the land. It pains them.
- Hand in the Hole: They find holes, black circles that represent hammerspace storage devices. Ringo soon gets a hole in his pocket.
- Harbinger of Impending Doom: The Meanies are coming!
- Have a Gay Old Time
- In one scene, a British policeman calls out to a cat by the call of "Puss, puss... pussy, pussy... Here, pussy."
- People attacked by the tall meanie minions that drop giant apples on their heads are described as having been "bonked". Although language is cyclical, and these days people are less likely to automatically associate "bonking" with "having sex".
- One of Jeremy's aliases is "Boob". At the time, a boob was a silly person.
- The mammary meaning was well enough known that a commercial including the character [does anyone remember what product it was for?] renamed him "Jeremy Hillary Lump."
- Ringo's introduction also includes him stating that "Compared with my life, Eleanor Rigby's was a gay, mad whirl."
- Head-in-the-Sand Management: The Lord Mayor is a sympathetic example. He also proves to be the only one who knows how to solve the current crisis — send someone off in the Yellow Submarine to get help.
- Heel–Face Turn: What the Blue Meanies do after they are defeated.
- Hell Is That Noise: The clown alarm. You can hear it here, but don't say we didn't warn you.
- Historical In-Joke: After being defeated, Max suggests to Chief that that they go to Argentina. This is a reference to various conspiracy theories stating that Adolf Hitler and several high-ranking Nazis faked their suicides and fled to Argentina.
- Humiliation Conga: The Chief Blue Meanie's precious flying glove is defeated, his weapons start spitting flowers instead of bullets, he is trampled by his own retreating army, and to top it all off, his blue fur was magically infested with carnations.
- Hurricane of Puns: This is one of those movies that turns these bad puns into magic.
- Including the Meanie number two's name, given that The Blue Max was once a famous German medal.
- "Today...Pepperland goes blue-y!"
- "It's blue glass." "Must be from Kentucky."
- "[It's a] University of Whales!"
- "I'm a born lever-puller!" (Which wouldn't sound at all like the word "Liverpooler" if it weren't for Ringo's Liverpool accent.)note
- "Cut-outs at the ready, and let's cut out!"
- When looking for George:
John: Then George will be here.
- Iconic Outfit: The Sgt. Pepper uniforms and the Beatles' rather eccentric choice of dress. Of course, both of these were picked up in The Beatles: Rock Band.
- Improbable Weapon User: The Bonkers use giant green apples as their weapon of choice. The counter-insurgency fights back with music and musical instruments.
- I'm Taking Her Home with Me!
- Ringo's feelings toward Jeremy manifest themselves as this more or less.
- 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.
- Jumped at the Call: All the Beatles. How they managed to understand Fred's garbled explanation is anyone's guess.
- Keet: The Chief Blue Meanie.
- King Kong Copy: Behind one of the doors in the Beatles' home, there's a bedroom where a giant gorilla peeks in through the window, breaks in and grabs the screaming woman.
- Lame Pun Reaction
- "Call a road service." "Can't, no road." "And we're not sub... scribers." The other Beatles seem physically pained by that one.
- And then there are a couple of instances of exchanges between Ringo and Fred:
Fred: What would your friends be doing here?
- When they walk through a hall of displays in a huge house:
Fred: Displaying what?
Ringo: Displayin' around.
Fred: You've got to steer clear!
- When Ringo tries to steer the submarine through the Sea of Monsters and they come across one monster:
Ringo: Steer clear?
Fred: Just steer! Clear?
Ringo: Yes, dear.
- Large Ham
Chief Meanie: Let us not forget that heaven is blue... TOMORROW, THE WORLD!!!!!!
- The Chief Meanie plays this to perfection, alternately talking calmly and yelling when excited or upset. Example:
- The real-life Beatles' cameo near the end is also tongue-in-cheek silly.
- Left the Background Music On: "All Together Now" starts when Ringo blindly pushes a button on the submarine's tape player.
- Limited Animation
Movie #16 Winter 1968-69 p.26 "Interview with Richard Lester""Inside the Yellow Submarine" Dr. Robert Hieronimus
- One of the defining films of the genre, often misattributed to avant-garde artist Peter Max; and a who's-who of British animation; helped inspire Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame.
- Part of what may have caused the film to underperform in its original release—keep in mind, this was 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."
- Magic Music: It drives off the Blue Meanies, revives the citizens of Pepperland, restores Pepperland itself to its former glory, and even allows John to beat up the flying glove with words manifesting out of his mouth.
- 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).
- Mathematician's Answer: After George peruses the motor and electrocutes himself, Fred asks him what he thinks."I think I burnt me finger."
- Mind Screw: Pick a moment.
Ringo: Hey, wait, that's my car, lad.George: How do you know it's your car, lad?Ringo: I'd know it anywhere.George: What's it look like, then?Ringo: It's red with yellow wheels.[The car changes to blue with orange wheels]Ringo: I mean, blue with orange wheels.[The car changes to yellow with light purple wheels]George: It's all in the mind.
- Jeremy says "Medic, pedic, Zed Oblique. Orfic, Morphic, Dorphic, Greek. Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo — So little time, so much to know!"
- George, when driving his or Ringo's car:
- 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.
- Mark Hamill has said that his performance of The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series (and, indeed, that version's appearance) can be traced back to the Chief Blue Meanie.
- Monumental Damage/Signs of Disrepair: When the Meanies conquer Pepperland, they smash a statue of two clasped hands, breaking them apart, and change a giant "KNOW" sign to "NOW", and then "NO."
- Mordor: Once the Blue Meanies take over Pepperland and ban music, it changes from a colorful, cheery unearthly paradise to a grey, gloomy dismal Crapsack World.
- The Musical
- 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.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Blue Meanies. Hence the joke where the Chief Blue Meanie moans about where they could go since they were defeated, and Max suggests "Argentina?" (See also: Today, X. Tomorrow, the World!).
- 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.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A subversion.note Jeremy does fix the sub's propeller, but this then causes the sub to zoom off and strand them.
- No Music Allowed: Considering that their weakness is music and all positive things, the Blue Meanies invoke this trope when they invade the utopian Pepperland. Fred, a Pepperlander who escapes being Taken for Granite, journeys far from home to ask the Beatles for help.
- No Power, No Color: Victims of the Blue Meanies, either through bonking, shooting, or smashing by the Dreaded Flying Glove, freeze up and lose all color. They're Not Quite Dead, however, as one such victim is seen shedding a tear
- Noodle Incident:Chief Meanie: Oh, I haven't laughed so much since Pompeii!
- Not Quite Starring: The Beatles did not voice themselves, but they do appear briefly at the end of the film.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: At the beginning of the film, Ringo is lamenting his boring life. Subverted a few moments later, when he starts walking down Hope Street...
- Obi-Wan Moment: The Mayor faces his imminent "bonking" with quiet stoicism.
- Off-Model: Hardly any of the characters are ever on model (Neither is the submarine). Whether this adds or detracts from the movie is a matter of opinion.
- Offscreen Crash / Drives Like Crazy: Played for laughs, of course. It actually consists of sound effects of much squealing of tires and several crashes, culminating in a huge explosion. The Beatles then run back onscreen, completely unharmed.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Jeremy Hillary Boob (AKA the Nowhere Man) claims to be a physicist, botanist, and dentist, and shows engineering talent as well.
- On Three: As the Beatles are about to sing Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.John Lennon Ok, fellows on the beat...A-one, a-two, a-three, a-four, a-five, a-six...Ringo Starr Can't you make it three?John Lennon Oh, alright! On the beat...A-one, a-two, a-three...
- Once Upon a Time: "...or maybe twice, there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland..."
- Oop North: Liverpool.Ringo: Liverpool can be a lonely place on a Saturday night. And this is only Thursday morning.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: Given the trippiness of the rest of the movie, this is understandable. Apparently John Lennon designed some of themnote , which explains even more.
- Palate Propping: John Lennon to the giant Glove, using the word "Nothing".
- Palette Swap: When George drives Ringo's car, it changes color multiple times.
- Pepper Sneeze: The Beatles get sneezed into the Sea of Holes by the Big Giant Heads. It is Pepperland after all.
- Planet of Hats: Pepperland is a musical realm.
- Plot-Driven Breakdown: Two in quick succession, in fact.
- 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.
- The Power of Rock: The entire universe is powered by it.
- Product Displacement: After United Artists' distribution rights transferred to Apple Records, the latter removed UA's Vanity Plate from the movie, and all of its surviving publicity materials.
- Product Placement
- The Apple Bonkers use green apples as their weapons for bonking people on the head, and Apple Records' corporate logo is a green apple.
- At one point, Mandrake the Magician, The Phantom and Buck Rogers appear inside Ringo's house. All of them are from King Features Syndicate, which co-produced the movie.
- Pursued Protagonist: Young / Old Fred
- Rapid Aging: While they were able to reverse the previous change while in the Sea of Time (see Fountainof Youth), they ended reversing it a bit too much, to a point where they undergo this trope.
- Rapid Hair Growth: While the Beatles and Old Fred are in the Sea of Time they undergo Rapid Aging and their head hair (including beards and mustaches) start growing out quickly. Ironically, the song that accompanies the scene, "When I'm Sixty Four", starts with the line "When I get older, losing my hair".
- Reality Warper: George.
- 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.""Lousy poet."
- 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
- Rule of Three: See Apathetic Citizens above.
- Running Gag
Fred: Ggggaakbunkahbdonkaglrigabpbr music lmrapqlifrheabffffunkahhluh blue gegahdahmaeroohthe s-s-submarine nbnhh explosion grfl BLUUEEE MEANNNIEESS!
- Fred's repeated incoherent explanation of what's going on in Pepperland:
Ringo: (When they pick up John) Now, listen to old Fred.
- Later, when they pick up John:
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, John, and Ringo: BLUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEE MEEEEAAAAAAANIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEES!!!
George: [to John and Ringo] Ah, you're nuts, the pair of yer.
- By the time they get to Paul, they don't even need to repeat it, him having apparently heard it the first three times.
- Saving the World With Art: The Beatles defeat the Blue Meanies and save Pepperland by The Power of Rock.
- Scenery Porn: The drawing style isn't technically perfect, but the backgrounds during many of the musical sequences is visually stunning.
- Schmuck Bait
- Ringo and the lever. (Granted, of course, he's a born lever-puller.)
- 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.
- The Hey, Bulldog! sequence has many of the elements of a Scooby-Dooby Doors gag, with characters appearing and disappearing at random, confusing the antagonist (though given that the beatles had near-perfect duplicates at this point it's somewhat justified).
- Security Cling: The Lord Mayor jumps into Fred's arms during the Blue Meanie attack.
- Shout-Out: So many, that they now have their own page for the references within the film and those to the film.
- Sigil Spam: The very tall, lanky Apple Bonkers pick apples from a tree, and bonk Pepperlanders on their heads by dropping apples, which turns them to statues. This is an inside joke to Apple Corps Ltd., the Beatles' newly established media company.
- Sissy Villain: The Blue Meanies are generally very camp in their mannerisms, especially their leader.
- So Long, Suckers!: In the Sea of Monsters, after the submarine manages to escape being sucked up and swallowed by a vacuum monster, George references this trope by name.
- The Something Song: Only A Northern Song.
- Space Jews: The Blue Meanies. "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."
- Stealth Pun
- One occurs while Fred is talking to the Beatles.Fred: Hey, what would your friends be doing here?
Fred: Displaying what?
Ringo: Dis-playing around. (Sound of rimshot and brief fanfare)
- Another one happens when they pass Frankenstein and Ringo comments that he used to date his sister Phyllis. "Philistine," you see.
- One occurs while Fred is talking to the Beatles.
- Stock Footage: Apart from George Martin's orchestral music and four new Beatles songs all other songs have appeared on other Beatle albums before.
- Stoner Flick: And how!
- Sudden Anatomy: At one point the titular submarine sprouts a toothy grin to disarm a school... er... university of whalesnote
- Suddenly Shouting: This is one of the Chief Blue Meanie's traits, speaking with eerie calm one moment and yelling hysterically the next.
- Sugar Bowl: Pepperland before the Blue Meanie attack.
- Suicide as Comedy:Ringo: I'd jump into the River Mersey, but it looks like rain.
- Surreal Music Video: The Trope Codifier as well as the Ur-Example.
- Taken for Granite: Citizens of Pepperland who are shot by the Meanies' magic arrows or bonked by apples lose all their color and become motionless. Some of them can still move a little, or shed tears, but none of them seem to be able to speak or put up any real resistance.
- Take That!
Chief Meanie: Aaaaah... the hills are alive...
- Most Blue Meanies have Mickey Mouse ears. The Chief Meanie has ears that look somewhat like Oswald the Lucky Rabbit's.
Max: [sings off-key] With The Sound of Music!
Chief Meanie: [immediately punches Max]
- Talking the Monster to Death
- They defeat one monster by making fun of how ugly it is. Said monster was totally harmless. Poor monster...
- Jeremy does this to the Chief Blue Meanie.Jeremy: Where ground is soft / most often grows— / Arise! Arise! / Arouse, a rose! [the Chief Meanie's nose sprouts a flower] ... a rosy nose??
- 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 devolves into some kind of recipenote
- 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".
- Tempting FateRingo: Nothing ever happens to me.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Naturally.
- Theme Parks: The Sony Entertainment Centers of Berlin and Tokyo featured "The Yellow Submarine Adventure" during 2000. The CGI cutscenes for the ride were made about a decade before the remake was announced.
- Today, X. Tomorrow, the World!: Variation: the Chief Blue Meanie says, "Let us not forget that heaven is blue... TOMORROW THE WORLD!"
- Trap Door: Ringo pushes a button and drops a monster out of the submarine.
- Triumphant Reprise: “Yellow Submarine in Pepperland,” a cheerful, march-like arrangement of the title song that plays when the Yellow Submarine returns to Pepperland.
- Unbuilt Trope: 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).
- Unflinching Faith in the Brakes: Fred as Ringo drives a car toward him in the mansion.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Practically everything the Beatles see in the course of the film, even in their own house.
- Utopia: Pepperland, before and after the Blue Meanienote invasion.
- Vehicle Title
- Those Wacky Nazis: Blue Meanies, to the point where the defeated second in command suggests fleeing to Argentina, no less!
- Waxing Lyrical: Songs that aren't featured outright often get slipped into the dialogue, such as when Fred pounds on the door while reciting the words to "Help!".John's doppelganger: I'm your alter ego, man!
John: Then I'm the ego-man, goo goo g'joob."
- Weirdness Censor: The only possible explanation for Ringo's boredom, considering where he lives.
- What Does This Button Do?: Too bad it was the panic button...
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?
Ringo: First time I saw that "Nowhere Man"...that "nobody"... I knew he was somebody.
- 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.
- Jeremy fixes the submarine's propeller (so well, unfortunately, that Fred can't turn it off and is forced to leave without the Beatles), and later helps take down the Blue Meanie Leader at the end and the Meanies into making peace.
- While Rome Burns: Parodied, literally. (Justified in that Pepperland is a Planet of Hats, and their hat is music.)
- With Catlike Tread: The Beatles sneak up on a bandstand containing their instruments, surrounded by "a million billion Meanies", and one of them manages to step on a discarded bagpipes. Then, once they get into the building, they stumble around a bunch of percussion instruments.
- World of Chaos: Most of the film is set there — even the parts in Liverpool.
- World-Healing Wave
- 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.)
- Paul: What's the matter, John? Blue Meanies?John: Newer and bluer Meanies have been sighted within the vicinity of this trope page! There's only one way to go out!George: How's that?John: SINGING!