• Jamie Morris

One to Watch: Yellow Submarine (1968)

Craving more multiversal madness? Try this on for size…

“Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream” – these are the opening lyrics to Tomorrow Never Knows, from the Beatles’ masterful 1966 album, Revolver. It also happens to be great advice when watching Yellow Submarine, the animated musical released two years later during the height of the band’s psychedelic era.

The film’s set-up is a simple one that leaves plenty of room for bizarre detours. The colourful kingdom of Pepperland is invaded by “Blue Meanies” – exactly what it says they are on the tin – and thus the Beatles (albeit voiced by impersonators) must traverse time and space in a yellow submarine to engage in musical warfare with their azure adversaries.

This is a beautiful celebration of colour, motion and sound

With a soundtrack primarily drawing from the aforementioned Revolver and its successor Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the film dares to ask the question: what does a Beatles song look like? A variety of mediums and art styles are used to remarkable effect, from the haunting semi-realism of the Eleanor Rigby sequence to the dancing splashes of paint used to depict Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.

In between musical numbers, the Fab Four find themselves in a variety of (often quite unsettling) locales, from Dali-esque landscapes filled with huge, grinning monsters, to, well, nowhere at all. The influence of its visual language still persists today, and can be seen in animated works from across the spectrum, including Adventure Time, Inside Out, Into the Spider-Verse and Rick & Morty.

It’s a beautiful celebration of colour, motion and sound – not the kind of film that leaves you invested in what might happen next, but instead intrigued by whatever weird and wonderful sights that your eyes are going to be treated to. By being devoid of any logic yet brimming with creativity, Yellow Submarine becomes an entirely unpredictable and wholly joyous viewing experience.

You can find Yellow Submarine on Amazon