Yellow Submarine (1968) Dir. George Dunning

Really cool movie.  I finally got around to seeing The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine after all these years.  I can say I’ve been haggled by people who were shocked that I was an animator and that I had not seen this film!  The best I could tell them was that I was playing catch up on a lot of films, everything from Rankin/Bass and The Last Unicorn, to the films of Ralph Bakshi.  Yellow Submarine seems to play more like an animated music video than an actual film.  There’s a story there, but the focus primarily are the songs and the trippy animation.  It just gets really wild and experimental in places, and some of the techniques used with 1960’s technology…well, some of those scenes blew my mind.  How were they able to pull off those effects??

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was probably my favorite song sequence in the film, just beautifully animated with water colors and dancing figures.  I also loved the opening sequence with the Blue Meanies taking over Pepperland.  And man…the blue meanies are awesome!  Great design and characters, especially the leader…just absolutely terrific character animation.  And the Mickey Mouse ears on them were priceless.  There were also some interesting shots where the yellow submarine would swim around in a circle, and the sub looked three dimensional as it turned.  Obviously there was no CGI back then, but how they got such a smooth sophisticated movement was impressive.

My only real disappointment with the film, and I noticed this on IMDB was that The Beatles didn’t provide their own voices, they were done by impersonators.  They show up at the end in live action of course, which was kind of a cute bit, but I guess they just didn’t have time to commit to doing voice over for the film.  It’s too bad because it would have been interesting to see what they could have put into it.  Then again, it’s possible they tried it and couldn’t pull it off.

If you get a chance, be sure to check out this film with the restoration on Blu Ray.  My dad’s old boss Paul Rutain headed up the restoration on this film, and it just looks stunning…beautiful and crisp image.  I really enjoyed watching this film for the first time, and I hope to see it many more times in the future.

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