Incredibly trippy movie about Pepperland being overrun by Blue Meanies and Ringo and his friends saving the day. Recently (and finally) re-released on both VHS and DVD, us dumb Americans can finally see the whole movie, whereas before only the British audience got the Hey Bulldog scene, among many other smaller scenes which were mercilessly cut.

1969 movie made in hopes of fulfulling the Beatles' three-movie contract, according to the biography The Love You Make by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines. The band had almost nothing to do with the movie, though, except writing some songs for the soundtrack, the original version of which contained:

  1. Yellow Submarine
  2. Only a Northern Song
  3. All Together Now
  4. Hey Bulldog
  5. It's all too much
  6. All you need is Love
  7. Pepperland
  8. Sea of Time
  9. Sea of Holes
  10. Sea of Monsters
  11. March of the Meanies
  12. Pepperland Laid Waste
  13. Yellow Submarine in Pepperland

The first six tracks are Beatles songs; the rest are incidental music from the film.

There are those who believe (as I do) that Yellow Submarine is an allegory for World War II, or the Twentieth Century European wars in general. Here are some of the supposed congruences. goes on and on. Admittedly, some of these derive from each other instead of supporting each other; however, it still makes the movie more fun to watch.

The initial invasion of Pepperland equates to the Anschluss and blitzkrieg invasion of Poland. The Lord Mayor's denial of the invasion represents the air of denial and appeasement that prevailed at the time, and the dispatch of Young Fred to get help signified the Dunkirk debacle.

If we continue on in this vein, the Beatles agreeing to help would represent the people of the Allies agreeing to fight the threat and pitching in as democracies (mostly).

I don't know to what degree this makes sense and to what degree it's self-constructed and self-supported, but it does make for fun during viewings.

Taking The Custodian's thought one step further...

It makes sense that Yellow Submarine is an allegory for World War II. It was still fresh in everybody's mind, even the children, who grew up on war stories. So that helps make the story of the Yellow Submarine more understandable, by placing it in the context of the war.

But more interesting is how the allegory plays out. It isn't brute force that wins the day, as happened in 1945, but music. It reflects the notion, very much in vogue in 1968, that music, not war, can save the world from dark forces. The Beatles, of course, were altogether happy to place themselves in that role.

It is also interesting to note that there is no role for a Soviet Union in Yellow Submarine. Of course, few in the 1960's West acknowledged the Soviets' central role in defeating Germany in the war.

Hagbard Celine, character from the book The Illuminatus! Trilogy, was a discordian leader and the captain of a golden submarine named Leif Erikson which, according to him, was made of gold in reference to the Beatles' Yellow Submarine.

The Beatles were actually reluctant to have this film done, hating the tv cartoon based on them. The voices aren't them at all, except for the singing. However, when they saw the finished product they were impressed and came up with that epilogue to the film as a sort of good-will offering.

Paul: Senile delinquents.

John: It appears to be a group of fellas.

Paul: Look, it's a school of whales.
Ringo: They look a little bit old for school.
Paul: University then.
Ringo: University of whales. {University of Wales pun?--me}
John: They look like drop-outs to me.

John: Break the glass.
George: We can't!
Paul: It's Beatle-proof.
John: Nothing is Beatle-proof!

Ringo: Look, it's Father Christmas!
Paul: That's not Father Christmas, that's Father Time.
Ringo: How'd you know that?
Paul: Well, I read it in a book.

John: It's blue glass.
George: Must be from Kentucky, then.

Chief Meanie: A thing of beauty; destroy it forever!

John: Hey Ringo, I just had the strangest dream.
Ringo: I warned you not to eat on an empty stomach.

Chief Blue Meanie: It's no longer a blue world, Max. Where can we go?
Max: Argentina?
Now tell me that isn't a Nazi reference!

In 1999, Yellow Submarine was re-released. It could be seen in select theatres, and was subsequently released on both VHS and DVD. To accompany this, a new version of the album was cooked up. Since the CD format allowed for more songs to be on a single album, there was room for far more Beatles songs from the movie on the album. Rather than include the instrumental tracks by George Martin, the decision was made to release the songs from the movie that were by The Beatles themselves. Eleanor Rigby, for example is in the film, but not on the original soundtrack.

Most of the songs used in the movie, but not the original soundtrack, are off of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Track Listing:

  1. Yellow Submarine
  2. Hey Bulldog
  3. Eleanor Rigby
  4. Love You To
  5. All Together Now
  6. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
  7. Think for Yourself
  8. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  9. With a Little Help from My Friends
  10. Baby You're a Rich Man
  11. Only a Northern Song
  12. All You Need Is Love
  13. When I'm Sixty-Four
  14. Nowhere Man
  15. It's All Too Much

And, considering that I was born 16 years after the original release of the movie, it was quite a thrill for me to be able to see it on the big screen. I wish that they had done that with the re-release of A Hard Day's Night. Oh, well. Maybe they will when they re-release the Let it Be film.

The movie itself was changed slightly as well. Originally, American audiences weren't shown the musical sequence for Hey Bulldog. This was included on the re-release. The movie was remastered as well, allowing for a clearer piture and better sound quality.

The DVD also included several other special features, including a commentary by the animator and the designer, a behind the scenes feature, theatrical trailers, the original pencil drawings, and a photo gallery.

Partial Credits (from IMDB):

Director: George Dunning
Producer: Al Brodax
Animation Director: Robert Balser
Writers: Al Brodax, Lee Minoff

Paul Angelis - Chief Blue Meanie; Ringo
John Clive - John
Dick Emery - Jeremy Hilary Boob, Ph.D (Nowhere Man); Lord Mayor; Max
Geoffrey Hughes - Paul
Lance Percival - Young/Old Fred
Peter Batten - George (uncredited)

On a different note, Yellow Submarine is also the name of a chain of role playing game stores in Tokyo. They also sell Trading Cards, Model Kits, miniatures as well as european boardgames. most of the stores dealing only with one of these markets, but all operate under the same name, which makes it difficult to know weather this is the store you want from the outside. So far, I've seen multiple stores in each Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara and Ikebukuro, but there are probably more.

The chain seems to be operating for quite some time now, so you can usually find loads of OOP game materials from way back. For example, recently I found a couple of Grenadier Traveller miniatures that were produced back in 1981.

As other FLGS are scarce in Tokyo, the Yellow Submarine is often your best bet for new game books. The prices are quite stiff compared to the US, but most of that is probably import costs. Good place to keep your gaming hobby alive even in Japan. And they carry KoDT as well! Hoody hoo!

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