Released: 1968, digitally remastered 2018
Available On: Re-mastered version is out now at selected cinemas
Director: George Dunning
Reviewer: Susan England
Yellow Submarine was re-released as a world-wide cinema event 8 July 2018, to mark its 50th anniversary.
Full disclosure: I am a Beatles fan who has loved them from the time I was still in diapers (nappies) in Georgia, USA. I received no compensation for this totally biased review. I watched all 4 showings of the film on 8 July 2018 to celebrate my favourite band and the love of my big sister.
Yellow Submarine: The Beatles-fan Review:
In the town where I was born, lived a girl who loved the Beatles so much her big sister Martha took her to the Tooga Theatre in Summerville, Georgia to see Yellow Submarine on a hot, humid summer day in 1968. Little did big sister Martha know, she wouldn’t leave the cinema for a very long time.
Preschool Susan wasn’t to know that in only 2 years’ time, her beloved Beatles would break up, breaking her heart and the hearts of millions of fans around the world. Nor did she know those cracks were already beginning to show in the bands’ structure, and that the Beatles themselves didn’t even provide the voices for her cartoon heroes. She only knew they were here in her small north Georgia town, in huge cartoon form, in glorious, vibrant colour, all for her personal enjoyment. Her big sister, despite being a teenager at this point, had the patience to tolerate her little sister’s insistence they watch the film “just one more time so I can see Ringo drive the car around in that big ole hall!” (My other, younger sister-Dawn’s only reprieve was that she was still a toddler at the time, so stayed home).
Due to the delicate nature of the 1968 cartoon, no computer digital technology was used in the restoration of the film itself. The film itself was carefully restored frame by frame, by human hand. Judging by the vibrant psychedelic images which are still a feast for the eyes, those restorers had to be Beatles fans themselves!
Yellow Submarine, the film, is based on the Lennon/McCartney song of the same name, and is a glorious multi-coloured ride through Liverpool into Pepperland, which lies deep in the sea. The joyous Beatles soundtrack has been digitally restored and thrills the ears with surround sound of tune after tune, so loud and bright that you can’t help but sing along to yourself. To have had the honour to experience this 50 year anniversary in the Beatles’ hometown of Liverpool is a dream come true for this massive fan.
The perfecting touch would have been to have my two sisters beside me for the ride, but the Atlantic Ocean separates us these days. My surrogate sister Jenny was kind enough to accompany me to one viewing, and I was lucky enough to sit near another dear friend and her son during another viewing. I was thrilled to hear my friend Elly’s son Ryan laugh heartily at some of the same bits my much younger self once found to be the height of hilarity.
The plot introduces the Blue Meanies, who have invaded the colourful, musical town of Pepperland under the Sea and it’s up to the Beatles to save the day with music and love. Puns abound, and a hearty chuckle is still heard round the cinema when Ringo identifies himself as a “born Lever-puller” and John marvels at how the Sea of Holes reminds of him of Blackburn, Lancashire (referring to a line in “Day in the Life” on the Sgt Pepper album). The Beatles of course save the day, and at the end of film, the four Beatles appear in the flesh in their cheeky irreverence. When, at the end, John notes that Neurenblue Meanies have been observed in the vicinity of the cinema, and instructs the audience in an attempt to protect against invasion, cinema goers should leave the cinema singing.
Young Susan loved the vibrant images, infectious soundtrack and cheeky humour of the film. Older Susan absorbed a message of peace, hope, tolerance and the power of love and music to make the world a better place. I’d love to believe these hopes and values didn’t die in the 1960s, and that today’s young generation will somehow save us all. Young Susan was hopeful for the future. Older Susan is sceptical, but still holds the belief that in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make, as a great band once sang.