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File:Edelmann 5446.jpg


 "It's all in the mind."

Yellow Submarine is a psychedelic late 1960s animated movie that doesn't quite star The Beatles. (Though their songs feature prominently, and they do get a cameo at the end.)

When Blue Meanies attack the strange and magical undersea utopia of "Pepperland", Old Fred is sent off in a near-omnipotent submarine to find help. He ends up in Liverpool, where he convinces Ringo Starr and his three "mates" to return with him. Along the way, stuff happens. Very weird stuff. With Beatles music all throughout and art in the style of Heinz Edelmann, the return voyage and rescue of Pepperland is... quite a 'trip'.

Can the Beatles save Pepperland thanks to The Power of Rock? Or will the Blue Meanies end the free and open dissemination of music, which they are allergic to, once and for all?

A motion-capture remake to be directed by Robert Zemeckis was in pre-production, but is currently dead thanks to his previous movie flopping.

Tropes used in Yellow Submarine include:
  • Acid Trip Dimension: Several.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The original song only describes a trip to the Sea of Green, and while that's still a goal of the movie (as the Sea of Green leads to Pepperland), there are many more seas the Beatles find themselves in before reaching the Sea of Green. Strangely enough, the Sea Of Green sequence only takes about ten seconds.
  • And I Must Scream: The citizens of Meanie-run Pepperland are shown to be gray and frozen, but still conscious.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: "Sixty-four years is 33,661,440 minutes, and one minute is a long time. Let us dem-0-1-2-nstrate." It's really 33,660,721 minutes.[1]
  • And Starring: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Even though the Beatles probably spend more time disguised as the band than the actual band's screentime. Rectified in the extended cut, where the real Sergeant Pepper and his band help the Beatles defeat a group of canine Meanies to the tune of "Hey Bulldog".
  • Angrish: Old Fred: Uhh... [gibberish] ... MUSIC ... [gibberish] ...BLUE... [gibberish] ...SUBMARINE...EXPLOSIONS...BLUE MEEAAANIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIES!!!
  • Animated Music Video: One of the first.
  • Annoying Arrows: Ringo pulls some out of himself after his experience in the Sea of Monsters. He found it 'arrowing.
    • The Blue Meanies' guns fire whizzy cartoon arrows complete with cartoony sound effects. They don't kill you if they hit, just remove your colour and make you a slave.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Lord Mayor, the Blue Meanies are coming! What will you do? "Finish the solo!"
  • Arc Words: "It's all in the mind." Thanks, George.
  • Auto Cannibalism: The vacuum monster eats everything in its universe; as a last resort it eats itself, mouth last.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: The Blue Meanies.

 Max: Yes, Your Blueness!

Chief Meanie: WHAAAT? We Meanies only take "no" for an answer! Is that understood, Max?

Max: No, Your Blueness!

Chief Meanie: Thaat's better.

 (After being eaten by the Vaccum Monster)

Paul: What should we do?

John: Serve tea.

Paul: Lovely.

 John: Hey lads. Now Ringo's gone. What do we do?

Fred: Learn to sing trios.

Paul: Naaaw, let's save the poor devil!

  • Contrived Coincidence: The Beatles just happen to be perfect physical duplicates to the legendary Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band. (In modern DVD cut they are implied to be linked to each other in some odd metaphysical fashion.) Lampshaded to a degree when the Lord Mayor meets them.

 Lord Mayor: It's quite uncanny! Your faces!

Paul: We're quite cute, really[2].

Lord Mayor: You could pass for the originals!

John: We ARE the originals.

Lord Mayor: No, no ... Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band!

George: They couldn't be much with a name like that!

 Fred: Sir! Sir! The Blue Meanies are coming!

Lord Mayor: Not h-here, young Fred. They w-wouldn't dare.

Fred: They would! They are! What are you going to do?

Lord Mayor: Finish the quartet.

Chief Meanie: FIRE! (The Meanies keep firing away, and one of the foursome is turned to stone by a Meany's arrow and Fred catches his instrument)

Fred: Trio, sir. (He starts plucking away, as another is turned to stone) Duet, sir.

Lord Mayor: Duet? (And a third is turned to stone)

Fred: Solo. (He takes a whack at playing all three violins at once)

Lord Mayor: Young Fred! The Blue Meanies are coming!!!

 Fred: If we slip back through time at this rate, very soon we'll all disappear up our own existence.

Open your mouth love, it won't hurt. (Coaxing John to make the word "LOVE" appear out of his mouth, of course. What else could it be?)

    • As well as John asking Jeremy "who the Billy Shears" he is.
  • Go, Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Old Fred's motivational speech just before the Beatles enter the Submarine.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: Also, feet that shoot guns and hands that have teeth.

 George: I see footsteps.

Paul: It's a pair of kinky-boot beasts!

John: Preparing to attack.

  • Giant Hands of Doom: Again, The Dreadful Flying Glove.
  • Good Hurts Evil: Blue Meanies don't like good music spreading through the land. It pains them.
  • Grotesque Gallery
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: The Meanies are coming!
  • Head-in-The-Sand Management: The Old Mayor is a sympathetic example.
  • Hurricane of Puns: This is one of those movies that turns these bad puns into magic.
    • "Today...Pepperland goes blue-y!"
    • "It's blue glass." "Must be from Kentucky."
    • "[It's a] University of Whales!"
    • "I'm a born lever-puller!" (Which wouldn't sound at all like the word "Liverpooler" if it weren't for Ringo's Liverpool accent.)
    • And many many more.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Bonkers use giant apples as their weapon of choice.
  • I'm Taking Her Home with Me: Ringo's feelings toward Jeremy manifest themselves as this more or less.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "Call a road service." "Can't, no road." "And we're not sub... scribers." The other Beatles react with physical pain to that one.
    • And then there are a couple of instances of exchanges between Ringo and Old Fred:
      • When they walk through a hall of displays in a huge house:

 Fred: What would your friends be doing here?

Ringo: Displayin'.

Fred: Displaying what?

Ringo: Displayin' around.

      • When Ringo tries to steer the submarine through the Sea of Monsters and they come across one monster:

 Fred: You've got to steer clear!

Ringo: Steer clear?

Fred: Yes, steer! Clear?

Ringo: Yes, dear.

  • Info Drop: The animators almost seem to deliberately distract you when Fred accidentally drops all of the instruments in the Sea of Monsters, and the Beatles don't even mention it until they reach Pepperland. The only hint before that is when the Beatles play air instruments during the Nowhere Man sequence.
  • Jumped At the Call: All the Beatles. How they managed to understand Old Fred's garbled explanation is anyone's guess.
  • Jerkass: The Beatles To Jeremy. Being a Nowhere Man aside, Jeremy is basically a good-hearted soul with many skills. He just has no real purpose or reason for them. The Beatles are snarky to him from the start, and when he even HE FIXES THE SUB'S MOTOR, the Beatles attempt to just walk off without as much as a thank-you, and then go on to berate him FURTHER via the "Nowhere Man" number, leaving poor Jeremy a hurt, crying mess. Only Ringo takes pity on him at the last minute. And just a few minutes later, when Jeremy fixes one of the Sub's propellers TOO well that the sub accidentally goes into overdrive, John, Paul, and George lose no time sniping at him AGAIN. Only Ringo defends him.
  • Limited Animation: One of the defining films of the genre, often misattributed to avant-garde artist Peter Max; and a who's-who of British animation; helped inspire Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame.
    • Part of what may have caused the film to underperform in its original release-keep in mind, this made when the Beatles were at the height of their popularity and people still avoided the film. Richard Williams even points this out in his book "The Animator's Survival Kit".
  • Magic Music
  • Malevolent Architecture: It's clear from Ringo's whining about how nothing ever happens to him that he has never paid attention to what happens inside his mansion. Or he's just bored with it -- he no longer seems to notice there's anything strange about the place (partly because at least some of it hides from him).
  • Memetic Outfit: The Sgt. Pepper uniforms and the Beatles' rather eccentric choice of dress. Of course, both of these were picked up in The Beatles: Rock Band.
  • Mind Screw: Pick a moment.

 Jeremy: "Medic, pedic, Zed Oblique. Orfic, Morphic, Dorfic, Greek. Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo. So little time, so much to know!"

  • Monster Clown: The Meanies use really freaky looking clowns (known as "Countdown Clowns") as an alarm system. They've got no arms and really do look horrific. The noise they make when they're alarmed REALLY doesn't help. Plus when things tend to explode when you press their squeaky noses.
    • Mark Hamill has said that his performance of The Joker in Batman the Animated Series (and, indeed, that version's appearance) can be traced back to the Chief Blue Meanie.
  • Monumental Damage/Signs of Disrepair: When the Meanies conquer Pepperland, they smash a statue of two clasped hands, breaking them apart, and change a giant "KNOW" to "NO."
  • The Musical
  • Mythology Gag: To other songs from the Beatles; such when Fred recites the chorus to Help, or John introducing himself to "the Alter-Ego Man" as "the Ego Man, Goo Goo G'joob." And in the end when Ringo gave half of his hole to Jeremy and Paul decides to fix it to keep his mind from wondering.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Blue Meanies. Hence the joke where the Chief Blue Meanie moans about where they could go since they were defeated, and Max suggests "Argentina?"
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The four-minute trailer contains nearly as much footage of live-action Beatles as the entire film does, and with the inclusion of footage of the lads horsing around with the studio equipment implies them actually having something to do with the film's production behind the scenes.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: John suddenly gains the ability to make his words manifest into reality just in time for his "fight" with the Glove. For some reason, live-action Paul can do this by the end of the movie, too.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: At the beginning of the film, Ringo is lamenting his boring life.
  • Not Quite Starring
  • Obi-Wan Moment: The Mayor faces his imminent "bonking" with quiet stoicism.
  • Off-Model: Hardly any of the characters are ever on model. Whether this adds or detracts from the movie is a matter of opinion.
  • On Three: As the Beatles are about to sing Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

 John Lennon Ok, fellows on the beat...A-one, a-two, a-three, a-four, a-five, a-six...

Ringo Starr Can't you make it three?

John Lennon Oh, alright! On the beat...A-one, a-two, a-three...

 Ringo: Liverpool can be a lonely place on a Saturday night. And this is only Thursday morning.

  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Given the trippiness of the rest of the movie, this is understandable.
    • Apparently John Lennon designed some of them[3], which explains even more.
  • Parental Bonus: See if you can find one kid who can even see the Stealth Pun.
  • Planet of Hats: Pepperland is a musical realm.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: Two in quick succession, in fact.
  • Product Placement: One of the Meanies weapons is the symbol of Apple Records.
  • The Power of Love: Literally the power of love when John defeats the Glove with "All You Need Is Love." Then the movie ends with everyone holding hands to "It's All Too Much" and "All Together Now" written in various languages, set to the song of the same name.
  • The Power of Rock: The entire universe is powered by it.
  • Pursued Protagonist: Old Fred.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Yellow Submarine," of course. It was written in 1966 for the Revolver album. Even the songs that debuted in the film were unused songs that the Beatles had written for other reasons.
  • Renaissance Man: Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph.D. He describes himself thusly: "Eminent physicist, polyglot classicist, prize-winning botanist, hard-biting satirist, talented pianist -- good dentist, too."
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Jeremy again. As he explains: "If I spoke prose, you'd all find out / I don't know what I talk about."
  • Rotoscoping: In the "Eleanor Rigby" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" segments
  • Rule of Three: See Apathetic Citizens above.
  • Running Gag: Old Fred's repeated incoherent explanation of what's going on in Pepperland:

 Fred: Ggggaakbunkahbdonkaglrigabpbrmusiclmrapqlifrheabffffunkahluuue bluue gahdahmaeroohthes-s-submarinenbnhhexplosions-- BLUUEEE MEANNNIEESS!

 Ringo: (When they pick up John) Now, listen to old Fred.

Fred: Ggggaakbunkahbdonkagmusiclmrapqlffunkahbluuuemaeroohthes-s-submarinenbnhhexplosions-- BLUUEEE MEANNNIEESS! So, what do you think?

John: (to Ringo) I think it needs a rehearsal.

    • By the final repetition, John and Ringo are chiming in on the last three syllables:

 Fred: "Ggggaakbunkahbgmusibluuemaerosubmarinenbnhhexplosions--"

Fred, John, and Ringo: BLUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEE MEEEEAAAAAAANIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEES!!!

George: Ah, you're nuts, the pair o' ya.

  • Schmuck Bait: Ringo and the lever. (Granted, of course, he's a born lever-puller.)
    • And again with Ringo and the button. Poor guy never gets a break in this movie.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: At least three different points in the film could be legitimately claimed as Scooby Dooby Doors moments, though only one features doors outright. In the Beatles' mansion, a weird alien creature, a floating hat, a black guy in a yellow suit, a butterfly, a woman's hand, an eggcup, a tobacco pipe with a face, a rocking horse, a skull and crossbones, Batman, an umbrella and pair of glasses. All going in and out of doors in about five seconds.
    • Another moment occurs when the Blue Meanies chase the Beatles through Pepperland, after the band inadvertently awakens them from their sleep.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ringo and Fred pass through a room containing various pop-culture heroes, including John Steed and The Phantom.

 Fred: Can't we take one of these?

Ringo: No, Fred, I only work with me mates.

    • The Sea of Monsters segment includes a parody of the then-current Hamlet cigar TV commercials (hence the incorporation of "Air on a G String" into the music at that point).
    • In homage to this movie, Space Invaders were nicknamed "Green Meanies".
    • The line "It's a pair of kinky-boot beasts!" is a reference to the 1963 song "Kinky Boots", recorded by Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman.
    • In the Sea of Monsters, Old Fred presses a button, causing a load of miscellaneae to emerge from the sub. One of them is a banner that reads "The Rolling Sto-" before zipping back in.
    • Futurama: Bender's Game features a parody of the movie with the Planet Express ship getting more "submarine-shaped"
    • One episode of The Simpsons also parodies this movie (a dream sequence Lisa has under laughing gas).
    • The second-in-command of the Blue Meanies is named Max.
    • Several Beatles songs that weren't used directly in the film get referenced:

 Fred: Won't you please, please help me? ("Help!")

Jeremy: Enough to fill the Albert Hall. (As part of a string of references on "A Day in the Life", one being that The Sea of Holes reminded John of Blackburn, Lancashire, to which Paul replies sing-songedly, "Oh, boy!")

Paul: Getting better all the time. ("Getting Better", obviously)

Pepperland John: I'm the alter ego, man.

John: And I'm the ego man, goo goo g'joob. ("I Am the Walrus")

    • Then later, in the live action part:

 George: What can [Jeremy] do with half a hole?

Paul: I'll fix it to keep his mind from wondering! ("Fixing a Hole")

    • A couple of bars of "With A Little Help From My Friends" get played.
    • The frightening orchestra crescendo from "A Day in the Life" gets used for the start of the submarine's journey home.
    • In the opening sequence, when George is introduced, the opening of "Love You To" plays.
    • When the Beatles arrive in Pepperland, in order to "un-bonk" the Lord Mayor the four loop part of the lyric of "Think For Yourself".
    • When Ringo uses the hole in his pocket to break open the glass bowl imprisoning Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the opening bars of "Baby, You're A Rich Man" play.
    • George's catchphrase "It's all in the mind you know" is from The Goon Show (a suitable reference, as the Beatles really were fans of the Goons).
    • The Apple Bonkers' Weapon of Choice look like the logo of a certain record company.
  • Sissy Villain
  • So Long, Suckers!: In the Sea of Monsters, after the submarine manages to escape being sucked up and swallowed by a vacuum monster, one of the Beatles, most likely George, says, "So long, sucker!"
  • Space Jews: "Are you... blueish? You don't look blueish..." Production supervisor John Coates claims this moment was meant as commentary on the stereotypical casting of Jews as villains. Interestingly, apparently the Blue Meanies were originally planned to be a different colour, like red or purple; it was an accident that they turned out blue. Granted, "Blue Meanies" does sound better than "Purple Meanies."
  • Spot of Tea: According to the Novelization this is required to submerge the submarine.
  • Stealth Pun:

 Fred: Hey, what would your friends be doing here?

Ringo: Displaying.

Fred: Displaying what?

Ringo: Dis-playing around. (Sound of rimshot)

 Chief Meanie: Aaaaah... the hills are alive...

Max: With The Sound of Music! (This prompts the Chief Meanie to punch Max.)

  Jeremy Where ground is soft/most often grows/Arise! Arise!/Arouse, a rose... a rosy nose?

  • Techno Babble: In a parody of his tendency towards profound pronouncements, Lennon's character attempts to explain the uncanny resemblance between themselves and Sgt. Pepper's Band. The other characters promptly laugh it off and attempt to bash open their glass prison while he's still talking.
    • It gets better. If you listen closely, John's explanation eventually evolves into some kind of recipe[4]
    • And while John starts talking about relativity, Paul spins around and starts singing the old music-hall number Any old Ein, Any old Ein, Any-any-any old Ein-stein.
  • Tempting Fate

 Ringo: Nothing ever happens to me.

  • Theme Park: The Sony Entertainment Centers of Berlin and Tokyo featured "The Yellow Submarine Adventure" during 2000. The CGI cutscenes for the ride were made about a decade before the remake was announced.
  • Today X, Tomorrow the World!: Variation: the Chief Blue Meanie says, "Let us not forget that heaven is blue... TOMORROW THE WORLD!"
  • Trap Door: Ringo pushes a button and drops a monster out of the submarine.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Just about any of the musical segments (especially "Nowhere Man", "Only a Northern Song", "Eleanor Rigby" and "When I'm 64") could easily pass for 80s style music videoes (in content if not for actual animation style).
  • Unflinching Faith in the Brakes: Old Fred as Ringo drives a car toward him in the mansion.
  • Utopia: Pepperland, before and after the [5] invasion.
  • Vehicle Title
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Blue Meanies, to the point where the defeated second in command suggests fleeing to Argentina, no less!
  • Watch It Stoned
  • Waxing Lyrical: Songs that aren't featured outright often get slipped into the dialogue, such as when Fred pounds on the door while reciting the words to Help.
    • "I am the ego man, goo goo g'joob."
  • Weirdness Censor: The only possible explanation for Ringo's boredom, considering where he lives.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: When a monster gets inside the submarine, everyone comments on how incredibly ugly it is until it's driven to tears, at which point they kick it out of the sub. Later when Jeremy is also brought to tears by the Beatles singing "Nowhere Man" to him (to their credit, the lyrics are an accurate portrait of him), Ringo is the only one who seems to care that they've hurt Jeremy's feelings, the other Beatles want nothing more to do with him. But Ringo gets him to come along anyway, and he does turn out to be of some assistance.

 Ringo: Poor little guy.

Paul: I dunno, Ringo is just a sentimentalist.

 Ringo: First time I saw that "Nowhere Man"...that "Nobody" ..... I knew he was Somebody.

    • This troper always thought that Jeremy started crying at the thought of them leaving him alone. He really only started to get upset when they began to leave.
      • He probably doesn't get many visitors...
  • World of Chaos: Most of the film is set there -- even the parts in Liverpool.
  • World-Healing Wave
  • Zeerust: the title was presented in a pseudo-MICR typeface, that being the 1960s idea of a "futuristic" typeface. (The only relationship most people had with computers being the MICR numbers printed on cheques.)

Notes

  1. The figure in the film is arrived at by multiplying 24 (hours per day) x 60 (minutes per hour) x 365.25 (average number of days per year including leap years) x 64 (years). That is 33,661,440. That contains about half a day too many, though. And in the Gregorian calendar, an average year is actually 365.2425 days.
  2. Paul was often referred to at "The cute one"
  3. He was not pleased when he wasn't credited for this
  4. It sounds like a recipe for scrambled eggs, which was, according to legend, the working title for "Yesterday."
  5. British
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