Lighter than Tommy but darker than Fantasia, Yellow Submarine is rock surrealism, psychedelic animation, a childish plot with deep and dark undertones and sequences of dream-like dimensions and progressions. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is filling up Pepperland with love, they get the flowers blooming and the people singing, which causes the Blue Meanies to become infuriated and attack them. The Beatles come to their rescue using their yellow submarine and try to eliminate the Meanies and restore the groupy feeling and yes-ness that Pepperland has been missing since the Blue Meanies took control.
In fact the entire film feels like it’s a pigment of me imagination. Free flowing, floating and flying, Pepperland and the Yellow Submarine are a colourful and simplistic, but at the same time complex, way of looking at the real world. Although there is a filter between mind and reality, this is rather thin and seems to have strange patterns all over it. Shapes and colours depend on the mood and the attitude, the music and the weather, the yes or the no. And The Beatles send meaningful messages, fight for a flowery revolution, mock negativity, lighten up the atmosphere, bring happiness, optimism and pure delight to our eyes and ears, without letting us realise that we’ve also been made to think.
A rather innovative way to travel to and through a world of fantasy, this film is based largely on its incredible soundtrack. All eleven Beatles songs featured in Yellow Submarine – All Together Now, It’s All Too Much, Baby You’re A Rich Man, All You Need Is Love, Only A Northern Song, Hey Bulldog, When I’m Sixty-Four, Nowhere Man, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Yellow Submarine — dress beautiful and unusual animation sequences that take their audience from silliness to meaningfulness and from superficially pretty to eloquently thought-provoking.
What’s worth noting is the fact that the music does not carry the “plot”, like in the case of Help or A Hard Day’s Night. The story is enhanced by the film’s soundtrack but in no case validated by it. George Martin composed and arranged the instrumental tracks dressing the surreal travelling of the band towards Pepperland through the various regions – Sea of Time, Sea of Science, Sea of Monsters, Sea of Nothing, Sea of Heads and Sea of Holes – and the actual fantastic four made a live closing scene appearance to perform All You Need Is Love, but all this is a plus, and the film stands beautifully on its own as a surreal comedy with astonishing animation.
Although a Beatles film, the band was not involved in the actual making of Yellow Submarine, but rather took on the tasks of music composing, recording and voice lending for their cartoon counterparts. The storyline was conceived by Lee Minoff, Erich Segal, Jack Mendolsoh and Al Brodax and the animation was all directed by George Dunning. Strong Beatles influence in the script and direction is evident and Yellow Submarine does a great and obvious job speaking what was in the band’s minds. The film represents their spirit and originality, humour and positivism while having impressive art to showcase and deep and somewhat complex – although dressed in a simplistic exterior – messages to get across. Great music, animated madness and colourful absurdity make Yellow Submarine one of the most bizarre and it’s-all-in-the-mind-you-know experiences that cinema has to offer.
You can watch the entire film here:
Yellow Submarine (film) at IMDb
Yellow Submarine (film) at Wikipedia
Yellow Submarine (song) at Wikipedia
Yellow Submarine (film) at Rotten Tomatoes
Yellow Submarine (awards won and nominated for) at IMDb
Yellow Submarine official website at yellowsubmarine.com