Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Night Magical Movie: Yellow Submarine

"Once upon a time or maybe twice there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland, 80,000 leagues under the sea."  So the story begins...
I saw this for the first time on T.V. when I was a kid, and I remember being simply delighted with the whole concept and also with the closing sequence with the actual Beatles, and Ringo quips, "I've got a hole in me pocket!" which was a floppy black hole that he produced. 
I was later dissapointed to find that the real Beatles participated only in the closing scene of the film, with the fictional counterparts of The Beatles voiced by other actors.  But this knowledge didn't ruin the magic of this animated classic for me.  The original story was by Lee Minoff and was directed by George Dunning who also directed The Beatles animated series.
Fred with his musical buddies in idelic Pepperland

This artsy magical animated fantasy was released in 1968, and starred, you guessed it, The Beatles!  It begins while Fred the intrepid captain of a magical yellow submarine has arrived in Liverpool and begins to stalk The Beatles one by one.  I hate it when that happens!  Fred is a good guy, he just needs their help because Pepperland has been taken over by the Blue Meanies who are a generally negative bunch of nay sayers and (bum, bum, bum, buuuuuum) they hate music! 
Blue Meanies plotting!

We'll have none of that!  So he begs the boys for help and of course, they decide to go with "Old Fred" on a grand adventure, which I'm sure had nothing to do with anyone taking any experimental mind altering, surely not.

Anywho, Old Fred teaches them how to operate the sub to the tune of All Together Now.   As they go beneath the waves.  The Fab Four travel with Fred in their yellow vessel through many seas on their journey, they sail into the Sea of Time and become very young and then very old as the appropriate song plays, When I'm Sixty Four.   The Sea of Science is a very interesting sequence set to the already weird Only a Northern Song.  They then reach the Sea of Monsters where they see a beast that is "sooo ugly, somebody push the button..."  which has since become a favorite catch-phrase for my daughters and myself sometimes applied to cars, items of clothing, etc. that just don't measure up esthetically.   They narrowly escape being sucked into oblivion by a paradoxical vacuum monster that sucks up it's own tail and end up in Nowhere Land.

Nowhere Land is about as interesting as it sounds, it's really just empty space.  Empty except for the sad little guy Jeremy Hillary Boob, Phd. who proceeds to fix the malfunctioning ssubmarine motor while reciting poetry.   This scene of course ends up being accompanied by the song  Nowhere Man and ends sadly with little odd Jeremy sobbing in realisation that he is in fact a Nowhere Man. Ringo feels sorry for Jeremy and invites him aboard, and he brightens right up. Jeremy does end up being useful.
Nowhere Man, don't worry, he'll be somewhere soon!

I love the Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds sequence in the Foothills of the Headlands, that song really lends itself to the crazy animation.  They cross through the Sea of Holes into the Sea of Green and end up in Pepperland and are disappointed to discover everyone has been turned into statues.  This is what happens apparently if you allow the Blue Meanies to say "No" to everything and outlaw music, so watch out for that.  There is only one way to put things back to right, with the magical musical instruments of St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band of course, that's why Old Fred brought the Beatles to help, you need musicians!
Blue Meanie, does he remind you of anyone?  I can think of a few of today's talking heads that he reminds me of!

Never forget, if you run into the Blue Meanies, "All You Need is Love!"  everything will be ok!

Being an artist, I can't discuss an animated film without giving credit to the people behind the art!  The style was very "Peter Max" a famous pop artist of the time, but he was not involved in this film.  The art director was Heinz Edelmann who's early work along with that of Milton Glaser were the fore runners of the psychedelic art movement that would eventually inspire others like Peter Max and Monty Pythons Terry Gilliam. There was a large crew of animators working on this, (over 200 of them, too many to list here) but it was Bob Balser and Jack Stokes who were the animation directors. Charlie Jenkins was one of the film's key creative directors, was responsible for the entire Eleanor Rigby sequence, (one of my kids favorite scenes) as well as the scene where the submarine travels from Liverpool, through London, and into the sea. Jenkins also was responsible for the Sea of Science, plus much of the multi-image sequences.

The soundtrack is a great blend of classic Beatles tunes and orchestral score composed and arranged by George Martin.  If you're feeling like an uplifting and magical "trip"  this is a fun one to go on that is perfectly legal and will have no long term effects, except perhaps humming Beatles tunes!

Kinda makes me want to play Beatles Rockband.

Happy Monday!

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