The Beatles’ 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine stands as a landmark in cinematic history, being the first full-length cartoon feature to encompass an entire album’s soundtrack while it also broke the mold for animation, sending its fluffier Disney-like peers into a spin.
To mark the film’s 50th anniversary, Yellow Submarine is being re-released in stunning 4K print format, each frame meticulously cleaned by hand.
This week the film is being screened in cinemas across the UK and USA, and it looks like being featured in select independent cinemas in Australia over the next fortnight.
In 2012, Yellow Submarine was digitally restored for Blu-ray and DVD, distributed through EMI Music. To view it on the big screen, spotless and larger than life, ought to bring an ultimate sense of magic to the movie.
This writer, having recently indulged in a little spliff before rewatching the film, began to read some serious stuff into its narrative. Sure, it might look like a lengthy cartoon for adults and kids alike, but scratch the surface and there’s a lot more going on than just kaleidoscopic adventure.
The story hinges around the Beatles who are battling an army of ‘Blue Meanies’ that are trying to destroy all that is good and ‘different’ on the earth. The Meanies, I presume, represent those conservative politicians and capitalist heads whom you might agree are still trying to run the show today.
There also appears to be a hint of critique on communism in the film, as well as what comes across as a celebration of ‘green peace’. Ultimately, it’s a movie about the brilliance of life, the necessity of diversity and the magic of change, with the bottom line being to appreciate these, all you need is love.
Even without scratching the story’s surface, Yellow Submarine is a treat to watch, not merely for its fantastical imagery but for its psychedelic soundtrack that includes Beatles’ classics such as Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Eleanor Rigby, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, With A Little Help From My Friends, and Baby, You’re A Rich Man.
Artistically, Yellow Submarine is like something that could have come from the combined minds of Lewis Carroll, Salvador Dalí, Emilio Pucci and MC Escher, with John Lennon and Paul McCartney presiding over the meeting, joints in hand.
If you’ve not seen this classic animated rock flick, try to get to one of the re-screenings at an indie cinema near you, or grab a copy on good old-fashioned Blu-ray or DVD. It’d make for excellent, trippy visuals when jumping out of a projector at your next house party. Antonino Tati