Saturday, May 12, 2012

Yellow Submarine

My review of Yellow Submarine could be more of a Tweet than a review: "It was the first movie I ever saw in a theatre when I was about 5, so I think it's awesome."

The End. (Hey, that's the title of a Beatles song!)

Yes, it combines my two great obsessions, the Beatles and the movies. And it being the first movie I can remember seeing in a theater (then the Victory, now the Victoria Theatre), the personal connection is powerful and undeniable. But my love for Yellow Submarine cuts much deeper than that. I saw Help! around the same time, in the same theatre. That's Beatles and a movie too, but I don't love Help nearly as much as I love Yellow Submarine. Why is that?

I saw Yellow Submarine In the theater, in a new restoration on Saturday. That experience opened the floodgates for me, not only of memories but also of pure dazzlement. The movie is a wonder, not just visually, but verbally. It's damn funny.

"Frankenstein?" Oh yeah, I used to go out with his sister. "His sister?" Yeah, Phyllis.

"Let's get this vessel shipshape!" I kind of like it the way it is. Submarine-shape.

"If I spoke prose, you'd all find out, I don't know what I talk about!"

(Cheif Blue Meanie laughs manically) "Hee Hee Hee! Oh, I haven't laughed so much since Pompeii!"

"It's no longer a blue world, Max. Where can we go?" Argentina?

And then there are the images. Sure, it's easy to argue that Yellow Submarine is best appreciated when you're stoned, but as Ken Kesey said, that's true of any movie. Besides, I've never been stoned in my life, and this movie is still a trip.

What struck me about my newest viewing was that the character animation is actually kind of crude. The design, and the little in-jokes within the design, are breathtaking. The restoration made the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" scene look like beautiful paint splatters.


Before today, I'd never noticed that the cats with flower tails that pop up in "Nowhere Man" also show up in Pepperland. I'd never noticed that the book Jeremy reads when he's fighting the Blue Meanies has a title: Karate.

It goes without saying that the music is great, but even there the movie has unique treats. The mix of the title song in the restored version reveals sounds that were previously buried. The version of "It's All Too Much" in the film has a verse not on the album. Even the bit where the Beatles sing a line of George's "Think for Yourself" is an outtake from a rehearsal.

All told, I love Yellow Submarine even more than I do another great film also embraced as a "head trip." Disney's Fantasia. Fantasia may be more artful, but Yellow Submarine is a hell of a lot more fun.

The new restoration of the film will be released on disc June 5.


PS - If the Victoria could ever show Yellow Submarine in their summer classic film series, that would make me very happy.

No comments: