Four score and 32 bars ago, four fathers – a quartet, and four mothers – another quartet, set up an artistic utopia called Pepperland. Fifty years ago, another quartet, The Beatles, got together with the some of the people who produced The Beatles Cartoons in America and put together the feature length film Yellow Submarine. Abramorama, Apple Corps Ltd. and UMG formed a trio to theatrically release the 1968 animated classic across North America this July in celebration of its 50th anniversary. The Beatles official YouTube site uploaded two video teasers for the upcoming emergence.
The first video, entitled “Interviews,” explains what went into taking Yellow Submarine “out of the realm of simple cartoons, and into real artistry.”
“Once upon a time…or maybe twice…there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland,” their press announcement opens. Yellow Submarine was based on the song of the same name, which was by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and sung by Ringo Starr. George Harrison blew bubbles, and may have shouted something puzzling about Paul during the audio collage section. Yellow Submarine was directed by directed by George Dunning, and from a screenplay by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn and Erich Segal.
The film “is a fantastic tale brimming with peace, love, and hope.” It is propelled by Beatles songs, including ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ ‘When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “All You Need Is Love,” and “It’s All Too Much.” Yellow Submarine began its voyage to the screen when Brodax, who had previously produced nearly 40 episodes of ABC’s animated Beatles TV series, approached The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein with a unique vision for a full-length animated feature.
When Yellow Submarine debuted in 1968, it was instantly recognized as a landmark achievement, revolutionizing a genre by integrating the freestyle approach of the era with innovative animation techniques. Inspired by the generation’s new trends in art, the film resides with the dazzling Pop Art styles of Andy Warhol, Martin Sharp, Alan Aldridge and Peter Blake. With art direction and production design by Heinz Edelmann, Yellow Submarine is a classic of animated cinema, featuring the creative work of animation directors Robert Balser and Jack Stokes with a team of animators and technical artists.
The second video, “Design,” goes into the artistry behind the animation. It includes Paul McCartney talking how the artists “varied their animation styles.” They also discuss the innovative technique of painting images over filmed foootage for a more realistic and surrealistic effect.
Abramorama, which partnered with Apple Corps, Imagine Entertainment, White Horse Pictures, StudioCanal and UMG’s Polygram Entertainment on the Ron Howard documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, also worked with Neil Young, Pearl Jam and Green Day.
“We’re thrilled to have the privilege of bringing Yellow Submarine back to the big screen so that 3 generations of happy Beatles fans can enjoy the ground-breaking animation and classic tunes and that have long been part of our collective cultural DNA,” Richard Abramowitz, CEO of Abramorama said,
Yellow Submarine was restored in 4K digital resolution by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team of specialists at Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Inc. The film’s songs and score were remixed in 5.1 stereo surround sound at UMG’s Abbey Road Studios by music mix engineer Peter Cobbin. Due to the delicate nature of the hand-drawn original artwork, no automated software was used in the digital clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements. This was all done by hand, frame by frame.
The feature films Help!, Yellow Magical Mystery Tour Submarine have all been digitally restored for DVD, Blu-ray, and iTunes by Apple Corp. The limited company was founded by The Beatles in 1968. Besides releasing the 30 million-selling album The Beatles 1, they also produced The Beatles Anthology series, the Grammy-winning The Beatles’ 13 remastered studio albums and 2017’s remixed Anniversary Edition for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Apple partnered with Imagine Entertainment, White Horse Pictures and Polygram Entertainment/UMG to produce the Grammy-winning 2016 feature documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years, which was directed by Ron Howard.
Yellow Submarine hits theaters in July.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.