Anybody familiar with the short Beatles cartoons produced for US TV (in which George Harrison appeared to have an Indian accent) would have expressed grave doubts that the same company, Brodax, might have been able to make not just a decent full length animated Beatle movie, but a brilliant one.
And yet this is what happened. Despite a tortuous route to production and despite (or because of) an almost total lack of Beatles involvement, Yellow Submarine turned out to be probably the first great non-Disney animated movie, a modernesque collection of pop songs (the “Eleanor Rigby” sequence is a masterpiece of 1960s melancholia) and a genuinely funny film for children, adults and potheads.
With a script by, among others, Eric “Love Story” Segal, voices by, among others, Paul Angelis and Lance Percival, and super animation (mostly dominated by Alan Aldridge), Yellow Submarine is a film whose Beatle contribution is entirely and solely musical (with great offcuts like “Hey Bulldog” and “It’s All Too Much”) yet which encapsulates the wit, optimism and sheer oddness of Summer of Love Fabs better than the actual Beatles could (it’s a lot better than Magical Mystery Tour, that’s for sure.)
With a superbly sympathetic George Martin soundtrack and, in the Blue Meanies, some of the perviest screen villains of the 1960s, Yellow Submarine is a lot better than it could have been (if we’re honest, it’s a lot better than Help! as well). This new version is cleaned up to perfection and features lots of fun, if rather brief extras (though none briefer than the Beatles’ actual appearance in the movie). It would have been nice to have Martin’s soundtrack included as well as the spurious Songtrack album, but perhaps Apple are saving that for the next reboot.
EXTRAS: “Songtrack” CD, Mod Odyssey (7 minute making-of documentary), original theatrical trailer, audio commentary by the producer and the art director Heinz Edelmann, storyboard sequences, interviews with writer Eric Segal, cast and crew, reproductions of animation cels, stickers, and a 16-page booklet including an essay by John Lasseter.