Tuesday, June 26, 2012

114. YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968)

It's both hard to believe that this animated feature came from the same production facility responsible for the Saturday morning cartoon BEATLES series, and all too easy. On a story level, YELLOW SUBMARINE is pure cotton candy, so bold-faced about its very evanescence that it stops at one point to show us the seconds in a minute ticking away, but it does so so cleverly and stylishly that we can overlook the apt analogy of our pocket being picked one penny at a time. The rest is rejiggered L. Frank Baum and Peter Max, some Bob Clampett BEANY AND CECILisms, and allusions to Beatles songs, mythology and album cover art, all collectively pressed under some of the starchiest animation this side of UPA. Fortunately, producer Al Brodax and director George Dunning brought poster artist Heinz Edelmann aboard. His visual acumen gave their flat soda a graphic fizz and a soul of invention that never stops. Art deco, art nouveau, op art, pop art, it's all here and more, served up with an often sly sense of humor. While there are parts of the film that aggravate me, for not being more fluid or for not being more rich in character or narratively involving, I must admit that no other film has taught me quite so much about the value of color, nor of the world of art and its myriad possibilities. If it's a bit soulless, it still has the power to make me flush with emotion during numerous sequences (particularly the "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" segment), and according to the booklet stashed inside the Blu-ray, the many anonymous faces inhabiting the various setpieces were donated by the animators from family albums and other personal sources, making this a tantalizingly (and invisibly) autobiographical work on a textural level. The 4K digital restoration by Paul Rutan Jr., Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Incorporated is endlessly appealing and gratifying.

Viewed on Capitol Records Blu-ray.

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