Saturday, September 5, 2009
Day 221: Yellow Submarine (1968) - Rank 4/5
Drugs! I need drugs! Man, I thought that Ken Russell's "Tommy" was the epitome of hallucinatory madness that the acid culture had to offer. I always regarded it as the type of production where everyone involved had to be on some mind-bending chemical. But "Yellow Submarine" trumps it, for the entire film is one gigantic trip. So much so, that I'm filled with a desire to procure it as a midnight film, just to see if the silence of the audience is interrupted at some point by an inebriated viewer screaming at the screen.
The story embodies that stereotypical message that them "gol' darned hippies" lived and died at the hands of the man by: love. The blue meanines (a clear metaphor for the cops), beat down a peaceful land of peace and music with their giant fists and deprive it of all color. It's then up to the Beatles, who join up with Captain Fred aboard his Yellow Submarine, to free everyone from the tyranny of the Blue Meanies with the only way they know how - love-infused music. The plot is pretty one-dimensional, but it merely serves as a way to infuse a series of Beatles songs with some pretty freaky animation.
Having never been a fan of the Beatles and still remaining fairly neutral on the subject, I appreciated the story more for its aesthetic value. The animation is astounding, from the vivid colors to the complexity of many of the vignettes, with multiple characters and objects blending together the way they would if someone fed Otto Messmer a handful of shrooms (it's easy to see how the animation style here no doubt influenced the style of Terry Gilliam). That's not to say that I found the soundtrack intolerable. Rather, I found it fitting; it was a perfect infusion of the audio and the visual. After completion, I honestly can't believe that a remake of the film has been greenlit. To me, "Yellow Submarine" is dated, but wonderfully so. It's a time capsule of the ideals, emotions, music and image of a generation. Any remake could scarcely convey those morals across several decades, and to put a new spin on the film's message would destroy it altogether. But I suppose in the eyes of Hollywood, if it makes money, then it doesn't matter. Ironically enough, such a mindset would be the very antithesis of the original product.
Watch the Trailer