Posted by: ckckred | June 8, 2012

Yellow Submarine: Beatlemania in Animationland

The Beatles (you all know who they are) in Pepperland

Since Yellow Submarine has recently been restored for Blu-Ray, I thought I might write a review on it.  I saw a premiere of the film a few years ago, which also featured a discussion with producer Al Brodax.  When he was asked what was the inspiration of the film, he said there wasn’t really anything in particular.

Though I haven’t actually seen the new restoration of Yellow Submarine, I’ve heard very positive things about it.  It was cleaned up frame by frame, something which isn’t done very often for most films.  It’s a good thing for the movie, as it’s filled with vibrant color and details that need to be shown.

Yellow Submarine is a movie that probably is a good representation of the 60s.  Like today’s Mad Men, it contains many themes of that era, such as the world peace movement (which came out during the unpopularity of the Vietnam War), bright colors, and, of course, the Beatles.  The movie is full of Beatle references, many of them obvious to point out (do I really have to mention the allusion to the song “Yellow Submarine”).  It may be a coincidence, but Yellow Submarine came out in 1968, the same year 2001: A Space Odyssey did.  While the two films are about differing subjects, both examine the mysteries of the universe (in 2001 the origin of life and in Yellow Submarine peace).

Yellow Submarine takes place in the world of Pepperland, a peaceful land protected by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band.  But all turns bleak when the music-hating Blue Meanies invade Pepperland, and drain out the world’s color using giant green apples (a reference to the Apple Records music label).

Old Fred, a sailor and resident of Pepperland, is asked by the mayor to get help.  Fred runs off to his yellow submarine and travels to Liverpool, where he meets (you guessed it) the Beatles, who agree to save Pepperland.

One of the most interesting things about the film is that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr actually don’t do their own voices.  Yet when I saw the movie, I was convinced it was the actual Beatles.  It’s really amazing.  I’m not sure how hard it is to do a John Lennon or Paul McCartney impression, but I’m sure those voice actors are very talented.

As the Beatles journey to Pepperland, they travel across many unique places, such as the Seas of Time, Monsters, and most memorably Holes (there the best line of the film is said: “I’ve got a hole in my pocket”).

I’m not part of the Beatles generation (I was born many years later after the film came out), but found myself really enjoying the movie.  Some younger audience members will probably view the movie confusing and strange, but it’s very well-done.  There are many great Beatles songs, such as “All Together Now,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” and of course “Yellow Submarine.”  It also has some of the best animation I’ve ever seen, with flashing colors and fantastic drawings.

Overall, I highly recommend Yellow Submarine, a film for any Beatles fans out there.  It’s a fun, whimsical film which the movie industry usually doesn’t make now, and I can easily say it is definitely one of the best animated films ever.



  1. My wife (a HUGE Beatles fan) and I watched the new Blu-Ray over the weekend and it’s simply stunning. The animation is just wonderful.

    I was also floored when I found out the Beatles don’t do their own voices…

    • Me too. I was really surprised when I found that out. They all sound like the real band.

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