The Beatles’ innovative 1968 animated film “Yellow Submarine” will return to theaters this summer in a new 4K restoration created to mark the movie’s 50th anniversary.
The theatrical run begins July 8, with details on specific cities and theaters to be announced on the film’s official website.
The original was restored by hand, frame by frame rather than using automated software.
“We’re thrilled to have the privilege of bringing ‘Yellow Submarine’ back to the big screen so that three 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,” said Richard Abramowitz, CEO of Abramorama, which teamed with the Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. and Univesral Music Group on the restoration and theatrical rerelease.
The original project in the late ‘60s was begrudgingly approved by the band, which had little involvement in its making, other than approving the use of several songs for the soundtrack and their participation in a filmed segment at the end.
Yet it still enhanced the group’s legacy for creativity with its forward-thinking combination of animation, live action and manipulated still photos, anticipating some of the style later to become a hallmark of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
The soundtrack, which includes such Beatles standards as “All You Need Is Love,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and the title track, has been remixed in 5.1 surround sound.
All but four of the songs used in “Yellow Submarine” had been previously released, the unreleased songs at the time being “All Together Now,” “It’s Only a Northern Song,” “It’s All Too Much” and “Hey Bulldog.”
The film’s score is also noteworthy for several segments of original orchestrated music composed by longtime Beatles producer George Martin.
The film took the group’s 1966 hit single of the same name as a launch point for a psychedelic romp through a world called Pepperland, using caricatures of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as the protagonists in their alter egos as the members of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They battled evil creatures called Blue Meanies, whose mission was to drive music and joy from the world.
The film was something of an extension of an animated TV series that originally ran for three seasons from 1965 to 1967 on Saturday mornings on ABC. The 39 episodes placed animated versions of the Fab Four into wacky situations built around their songs, two of which were typically featured in each installment.
The series, simply dubbed “The Beatles,” was largely dismissed by the group, but by 1972 Lennon had changed his perception of it, saying, “I still get a blast out of watching the Beatles cartoons on TV.”
More than a quarter-century later, Harrison said, “I always kind of liked [the cartoons]. They were so bad or silly that they were good, if you know what I mean, and I think the passage of time might make them more fun now.”
The group members were voiced by actors rather than the Beatles themselves, as also is the case for the “Yellow Submarine” film. The movie was directed by George Dunning, who also had worked on the TV show.
The pop art look of the film, often misattributed to artist Peter Max, was created by art director Heinz Edelmann, who pioneered the soon-to-be-ubiquitous visual style so closely associated with the psychedelic era of the late 1960s.
The official trailer can be viewed below:
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April 5, 9:09 a.m.: This post was updated with a comment from Abramorama CEO Richard Abramowitz.