Fifty years on and, like the fab four themselves, Yellow Submarine remains as important and mind-bendingly fun as it was on its initial release in the summer of 1968. A masterpiece of British animation that remains a firm favourite amongst fans and critics alike, the film celebrates its golden anniversary in true style this year, with this fantastic, painstakingly remastered 2012 edition hitting select cinema-screens across the UK this weekend.
If you’ve not yet had the good fortune to see Yellow Submarine, then run to the nearest cinema and don’t look back but don’t expect much in terms of plot. A simple premise sees The Beatles (John, Ringo, George and Paul, for those of you hermit types out there) set off on a quest to save the people of Pepperland from the music-hating Blue Meanies in the titular underwater vehicle. It’s as small-fry as plots go. But this matters little, the animators instead utilising the story as a springboard for a number of beautifully crafted animated sequences, all set to some of the band’s greatest toe-tapping hits.
The script itself sparkles with funny gags, one-liners, puns and rhymes that split the side every time, and while it occasionally ventures into the realms of tweeness, its natural charm means it never feels anything less then pure unadulterated fun. Whilst they may not lend their actual voices to the film beyond the musical numbers, there’s never any doubt that The Beatles‘ cheeky Liverpudlian charm and engaging personalities are a key ingredient throughout every fibre of the movie.
Many a crack has been made over the intervening years regarding the nature of the film’s visuals and its surreal, trippy quality. Colourful, weird and twisted it may be, but there’s no denying the sheer breadth of imagination splashed across every frame, from the oddball character designs to the sumptuous painted backgrounds and sets, accompanied by some of the greatest songs ever composed.
Much like the film itself, the delicately restored picture and sound quality is a must-see (and hear), one that demands the biggest screen possible. Yellow Submarine is a timeless classic that deserves to be enjoyed over and over for decades to come, this is quintessential British cinema and a firm reminder of exactly why The Beatles remain the greatest British band ever assembled.