Forgotten Films: Yellow Submarine (1968)
This is the 76th in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films
I just returned from ArmadilloCon (is it convention season again?) and while I was there I got to see a preview showing of CHRISTMAS WITH THE DEAD, a Lansdale family production. The film is based on Joe R. Lansdale’s fabulous novella of the same name. The screenplay is by Keith Lansdale, a talented writer on his own. One of the stars is Kasey Lansdale, Joe’s other child who works quite well as a Zombie and who provided several songs to the film’s soundtrack. You might think is to be somewhat incestuous, but you would be wrong. Like the Barrymore’s, the Lansdale’s are all very talented.
The film was made in conjunction with Stephan F. Austin University’s film department. But it does not show the usual things that separate college films from the rest. The special effects are lacking a little but this is a low budget film. The story is good, the production values are good. The acting is generally good. And the zombies, some of whom I recognized, are definitely not THE WALKING DEAD. They get to dance some. If you see it listed at a festival, you should try to take it in, particularly on a big screen. I saw it on a less than standard big screen, but bigger than a TV screen and quite enjoyed it.
So, to this week’s film. It had been a long, long time since I last viewed this film. When the DVD was released earlier this year, I had to get it. So I watched it the other day with Willie and Chuck. Chuck had never seen the film even though he was of an age when he could have (or should have) when it was released. Of course, I didn’t see it then. The usual excuses. No car, no money, blah blah. My bad.
Watching it again was a revelation. The Peter Max influenced scenes abounded. The sheer weirdness of the animation and cinematography made it a unique animal – neither standard animation, but conglomeration of live video, rotoscope, collage, and animation techniques. The story almost makes the Monkees’ HEAD seem logical.
The basic story starts in Pepperland, where Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has been put into suspended animation by the Blue Meanies. Young Fred is sent out in the yellow submarine to find someone who can help save Pepperland. After several false starts, he finds Ringo, who loeads him to the Beatles. They eventually agree to help and after an event-filled journey, they do arrive in Pepperland. They assume the role of Sgt. Pepper and the band and defeat the Blue Meanies. Lots of fun Beatles Music is played throughout the film which is generally a good thing.
It is a surreal trip all the way through. And one which I had a great time revisiting. I enjoyed much of the psychedelic era as it was happening (though not the drug scene) and this was a visit down memory lane. It was also interesting to see how the field of animation has not changed since 1968. Some of the animation styles utilized seem to have been forgotten. They were revolutionary and innovative, but it seems that animation studios did not choose to follow there. Revolutionary animated films were to come but it seems to me (and my somewhat jaded sensibilities) that some opportunities were missed.
But what you do get to see is fun, exciting, and something I very much enjoyed again. Check it out.
Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.