Beatle Movie # 5 – Yellow Submarine

Once upon a time… or maybe twice, there was an unearthly paradise called… Pepperland.

That’s right. After burning through the first 4 Beatle movies… “Help”, “Magical Mystery Tour”, “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Let It Be”, and with only one to go I waited for months to do it. I think it’s because this one is a childhood staple and to watch it in such a utilitarian manner seemed forced. So I wanted to wait for the right moment.

This movie has a special place in my heart. As a kid when this came on TV I was glued to it. If it was past my bed time my folks made an exception. At that point, as a kid I had no idea who the Beatles even were, I just thought it was an awesome long cartoon. The Blue Meanies, Apple Bonkers, Snapping Turks and projectile shooting Clowns terrified me. Good always prevailed though and I went to be without nightmares.

Eventually, I began to notice some of the songs from the “cartoon” on the radio. This only enhanced the experience. Once I learned who the Beatles were it all came together for me. I got it.

Each time I watched the movie it reached some new depth in me. I would notice things about the art, the songs, the characters… there was always something new to be discovered.

I recall my mother had a small art book by Peter Max that I discovered and whom from then on I assumed did the art in the movie. I mean it was the same style. I mean, it was an honest mistake. One made by millions. A mistake nonetheless.

Peter Max… Art.

Peter Max… Artist.

The film artwork may have been INSPIRED by Peter Max, but it wasn’t his art.

Yellow Submarine eventually came to my TV screen less and less, but even as I grew older I loved it, eventually ending up with a copy of it that I would watch now and then and anticipated showing my kids one day.

When that day came for each of them, they were not impressed. Sigh.

So, I realize that not everyone loves this movie. It can be dated, the art is less with the times now and animation these days is no longer 8-bit and is fluid motion body actors and computer graphics and CGI, but I still like it.

As aside here… 8-bit still lives. I give you a recent, as of this writing, a Kickstarter for a NEW 8-bit game.

Yeah, that is happening. Looks kinda cool actually.

Anyway… you can read plot synopses of Yellow Submarine anywhere, the feeling from the movie is what I can relate to you. The memories of watching it as a kid permeate my watching it now. I love it. The music is from the Beatles post yeah yeah yeah phase and before the grit of the later years so is perfect for young and old alike.

There are so many little things in this movie that go missed.

Did you catch 3 other color submarines in the opening credits?

Green Submarine might have been workable. Just saying.

It’s also fun to hear all the references to Beatle songs sprinkled in. There is a snippet of the build up before the endless piano chord from the end of “A Day In A Life” as the Yellow Submarine heads for the ocean.

The journey to Pepperland is a strange and eerie trip, especially for kids. There were all kinds of strange creatures and backdrops. It always creeped me out.

Remember the beast that sucks everything into his funnel? He sucked up the creature that made ice-cream cones, neckties, pyramids and gas pumps. Just like that. He just misses the Yellow Submarine as he gets distracted by yet another victim.

and the Kinky Boot beasts?

and I love when the Boxing beast comes at them and they push buttons to try to fight back, look what banner falls out of the back of the sub.

Is that the Beatles shouting out the Rolling Stones? Lol.

Eventually the beast that sucks everything up does get the sub, and then the film frame (I remember that blew my mind), and then itself. The Yellow Submarine survives this to continue on.

Then they meet Nowhere Man and reach the bit with the holes.

At least they now know how many it takes to fill Albert Hall. Ringo takes one and puts it in his pocket (important for later).

In point of fact, the lads don’t actually GET to Pepperland until almost an hour into the movie. The lads, the pilot and the elder descend from the Yellow Submarine docking pyramid into the darkest moment for me in the entire movie.

There is a scene where the Pepperland residents are grey and frozen and the Apple Bonkers are keeping them inert with apples. The music playing is ominous and brooding. I remember it making me so scared and sad as a kid.

The lads are there now though and the battle to free Pepperland begins.

“Sgt. Pepper Lonely Heart’s Club Band” revives the residents, “All You Need Is Love” defeats Glove and Ringo uses the hole in his pocket to release Sgt. Pepper Lonely Heart’s Club Band from the glass globe they were trapped in. Then Ringo saves Nowhere Man and Nowhere Man blooms flowers all over the Chief Blue Meanie. The all run away, only to be invited back now that they are no longer mean. Then everyone lives in harmony. End scene.

All that remains is a non-animated cameo by the actual Beatles taking us out with “All Together Now” with the text All Together Now translated into many languages. Nice. Roll credits.

As stated before, this movie connects me with my childhood and will always be a favorite of mine. The music is great and there is intrigue, danger,  comedy and ultimately love and peace for everyone. You can’t go wrong.

One thing I learned did bum me out a bit when I first read it, but ultimately didn’t ruin the movie for me and I hope doesn’t ruin it for you…

the Beatles are not even voicing their own characters! Say what?! True. They only appear in the cameo at the end. Throughout the movie their voices are done by other actors. Per the Wiki:

  • John Clive as John
  • Geoffrey Hughes as Paul
  • Peter Batten as George (uncredited)
  • Paul Angelis as Opening Narrator / Chief Blue Meanie / Ringo / George
  • Dick Emery as Max / Lord Mayor / Jeremy Hillary Boob
  • Lance Percival as “Young/Old” Fred

According to the special features section of the Yellow Submarine DVD, Peter Batten provided the voice of George for about the first half of the movie. Before he finished recording for the film, he was discovered to be a deserter from the British Army of the Rhine in West Germany, and was arrested. His part was completed by Angelis, who was also the voice of Ringo and the Chief Blue Meanie.

Sigh. Ah well… even that doesn’t dull my love of this film.

Goodbye lads. Thanks for saving Pepperland!

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