“A Hard Day’s Night” is essentially the film debut of the Beatles and celebrates everything fun and creative about them. The film is meant to be an entertaining and care free romp through the lives of history’s most popular music group and the earthquake they caused when they stormed the music world. For fans of the Beatles who stuck it out with them through the period of re-invention and discovery of their musical and creative limits, “Yellow Submarine” is a film worth watching.
But only if you consider yourself a hardcore fan of the fab four. This is less a film about the Beatles as it is a psychedelic trip through hazy surreal landscapes involving the fab four and their journey to save a land from the dreaded blue meanies. If you’re a fan of the album, this movie does the trick by playing some of the best tunes from the iconic record along with the wonderful animation. “Yellow Submarine” is a unique and often brilliant animated film that pictures the Beatles as towering and often god-like gentlemen who have the power to change worlds. And in “Yellow Submarine” it’s pretty much what they do and accomplish.
They’re called upon by the valiant Captain Fred who hopes to save his home of Pepperland from the blue meanies. And it’s up to the fab four to help him and the people, and show them how music can save them from the dastardly villains. “Yellow Submarine” is a mind trip and makes great use of the animation medium to tell a story that’s so far away from the conventions of “A Hard Day’s Night” it’s almost as if this is a completely different band. And in many ways it was. By 1968 the Beatles broke free from the doldrums of the pop scene and embarked on a journey, dabbling in different dimensions and facets of music that advanced them as artists.
“Yellow Submarine” is a far way off from “Help” and “She Loves You,” and it shows. For an animated film released in 1968, “Yellow Submarine” is still a very effective and innovative little mind trip with wonderful animation and a premise that challenges the conventions of the medium on more than one occasion. “Yellow Submarine” is strictly for Beatles devotees, and in many ways that’s a caveat. Fans of the band on a solely musical level may not be willing to invest in this visual and mental journey, but speaking as a hardcore follower, this is an experience I intend to re-visit again and again.
Featured in the newly restored release is a seven minute Mod Odyssey documentary, along with the original theatrical trailer. There are also three storyboard sequences, and various interviews with the voice actors and crew members of the film including Paul Angelis, John Clive, and David Livesey. As well there are also original pencil drawings, and a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos. Fans of animation and the Beatles willing take the magical mystery tour with the fab four through Pepperland to battle the Blue Meanies need to pick up this new release, which brings the surreal journey of the lads from Liverpool to the new age once and for all. It’s a film that’s barely dated, and it deserves to be rewarded with a new audience.