MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
Released in 1968, The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” was a groundbreaking film. Capturing the imaginations of audiences, it became an instant his, bolstered by the popular songs of the Beatles. Now, more than four decades later, “Yellow Submarine” is re-releasing on DVD with a coordinated Blu-ray release as well.
The psychedelic trip tells the story of how Ringo, John, George and Paul help the old captain of a magical yellow submarine rid his land of the evil Blue Meanies, who try to stomp out music and happiness. With the help of the Boob, a “Nowhere Man” that represents pseudointellectuals of the time, the Beatles rescue Sgt. Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band to bring peace to the land.
It’s a bit of a trip, let me tell you. But even without the Beatles-endorsed drugs of the time, it’s still fascinating to watch. It’s a silly, goofy, deep and fun movie. The animation style is so tied to the era in which it was made that it is hard to not feel nostalgic when watching it.
While I was not in existence in 1968, I grew up in the 70s, where plenty of this psychedelic animation spilled over. It’s unique and unlike anything you’ll see today. Not always making complete sense, “Yellow Submarine” is indescribable in the traditional narrative sense.
Made before the Beatles fractured, so their internal problems were hidden enough to keep the silly happiness alive in their public personas, the film is a bizarre children’s movie that is relateable to adults. Like the somewhat contemporary “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Yellow Submarine” goes beyond hinting at adult recreation while still being an interesting G-rated watch.
Even as a self-described “Elvis man” (as Quentin Tarantino delineated in “Pulp Fiction”), I still enjoyed the movie. Ringo’s silly pun-filed optimism made things work for me, and the charm of the other three Beatles still came through, even though they were essentially caricatures of their public personas courtesy of talented voice actors.
I had not seen the film in its entirety before this release, so I’m coming at it as a rather square 40-year-old man who doesn’t engage in (nor have I ever engaged in) recreational drug use. Still, I found it a fascinating ride. And running a brisk 90 minutes, it doesn’t wear out its welcome.
Special features on the new DVD include audio commentary by John Coates with Heinz Edelmann. There’s a vintage making-of documentary called “Mod Odyssey” as well as the original theatrical trailer, storyboard sequences, original pencil drawings and behind-the-scenes photos. Finally, there’s a slate of interviews with the voice actors, animation director and co-writer.