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Podcast: ‘Yellow Submarine’ 50 years on

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In episode 82 of the Skwigly Animation Podcast we look back on George Dunning’s iconic contribution to British animated cinema Yellow Submarine some fifty years on.

Once upon a time….or maybe twice….there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland. 80,000 leagues under the sea it lay, a place where beauty, happiness, and music reign supreme.

Directed by George Dunning and released in 1968 when The Beatles were at the height of their psychedelic powers, the film serves as an anthology of animated song interpretations – including Charlie Jenkins and Bill Sewell’s visually diverse treatments of Eleanor Rigby and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – strung together by an absorbing, at times indulgent fantasy adventure brought to life by the inimitable (though attempts at imitation have been plentiful over the years) art style of Creative Director Heinz Edelmann.

The story begins in Pepperland, an idyllic, musical realm that has been taken over and silenced by the Blue Meanies. Desperate for help, Pepperland resident Young Fred hops in a Yellow Submarine and voyages to Liverpool so he might appeal to the Fab Four for help. Thus begins a journey with John, Paul, George and Ringo through an assortment of increasingly hallucinogenic seascapes on the way to a final showdown in Pepperland.

Boasting two original Beatles songs Hey Bulldog and All Together Now, the film was critically hailed at the time of its release and remains a highly-regarded masterwork of British animation.

Yellow Submarine will be celebrating the lead-up to its 50th anniversary this Sunday (July 8th) through a number of newly-restored theatrical screenings across the UK in association with organisations such as Anim18, the BFI, Everyman Cinemas and Picturehouse Cinemas. Keep your eyes on the Anim18 website for future events including a screening at Birmingham’s MAC on the anniversary itself (July 17th) and a number of special interactive ‘singalong’ screenings from August.

Joining us in this episode are special guests Lynn Mitchell (Cel Painter) as well as Gillian Lacey (Assistant Animator), who would go on to set up the Leeds Animation Workshop, teach at the National Film and Television School and direct an extensive personal filmography.

Also discussed in this episode: The legacy of Smallfilms founder Peter Firmin who passed away earlier this month and whose own body of work (alongside co-founder Oliver Postgate) included such classic UK series as Ivor The Engine (1959-63), Noggin The Nog (1959-65), The Clangers (1969-72) and Bagpuss (1974).

Listen below or direct download:

For more on the film and to see if it’s screening near you this month visit yellowsubmarine.film

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