George, Paul, Ringo and John travel to Pepperland to save it from invading Blue Meanies.
Probably the most fondly remembered of the four Beatles movies, Yellow Submarine’s hallucinogenic, dazzling animation still looks pretty good three decades on, even away from the acid-enhanced glare of 1968. Now, this spruced-up version of the Fab Four’s (literal) trip through a psychedelic universe in a big old sub works best as a reminder of just how influential the Beatles were.
The perfunctory story has John, Paul, George and Ringo attempting to rescue Pepperland, a music-loving community, from an invading army of Blue Meanies whose hatred of all things melodic is evident in their turning all the inhabitants to stone. They travel there in the titular U-boat, having one weird encounter after another: a universe filled entirely with holes, a timewarp that speeds up the ageing process, and so on. Plus, of course, there’s a string of tuneful set pieces, from Nowhere Man and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds to the title track.
None of it makes a great deal of sense and the plot loses steam after the first hour before rallying for the elaborate finale. But Yellow Submarine’s deliriously silly humour, off the wall charm and wildly imaginative imagery (it might be billed as a family film, but there’s some seriously scary stuff here) paper over any cracks in the storyline and most of the occasionally wayward vocal impersonations.
Perhaps most importantly, though, it paints a vivid and very welcome picture of a pop group actually having fun with their craft - which becomes evident when the real Beatles pop up at the end.
A garish, gorgeous example of pop art at its finest, Yellow Submarines reappearance should give a whole new generation a chance to discover the legends.