Saturday 7th April
Continuing my viewing of Beatles Fims, yesterday I watched Yellow Submarine. The last time I saw this was in 1968 when it first came out. In a big cinema too. It was mind-blowing. I possibly saw it on TV a few years later, but it has now been digitally restored and is better than ever. A strange one, this. The film was signed off by Brian before he died and given to a team of mostly British Animators under the direction of George Dunning. Apart from knocking off 4 new songs and a short cameo performance, The Beatles had very little to do with the film. It was based on their 1966 and 1968 songs – Yellow Submarine, Eleanor Rigby, All You Need is Love, Nowhere Man, Lucy and Sargeant Pepper. Mind you, the new songs are brilliant too – Only a Northern Song, and Hey Bulldog especially. The story is nonsense, but it really doesn’t matter. The Beatles are featured in the film as cartoons of themselves with actors speaking their lines.
The animation is extremely varied, some hand drawn, quite a lot is cut-outs, and moving cameras and bits of processed film, but much is (or was) revolutionary at the time. Colours changing every frame to create chaos in the brain. There is a particular bit of Lucy, where a girl and then a couple are dancing and there are scribbles of changing colours on every frame – which somehow reflects the song beautifully. There is quite a lot of humour in the film too, with jokes and ‘Beatle’ references all over the place. It is very much a period piece, full of Optimism and the idea that Love and Music will conquer the Blue Meanies. Sadly, as we know, the Meanies are currently winning…
I absolutely love it, but like Magical mystery Tour, only to be watched every now and then. Like almost everything the Beatles touched it has turned to gold. And the best thing of all….this was made without a single bit of CGI, and is all the better for it. This is, and maybe was, a pinnacle of pre-computer animation. And the Beatles were right – all you need is love.