Saturday, February 04, 2006

Weekend views No.3 (University of Whales)

A lovely thing happened today when I sat down to work in the kitchen...following a conversation last week, I dug out an old VHS copy of one of my all-time faves: Yellow Submarine.
Now, in the days before I sampled erm...herbal remedies of various descriptions, I saw this little beauty on the TV and dreamed of how, when I was old enough to fry my synapses, I would gain access to such a technicolour world. How wrong I was. Yet, for some reason, this combination of Milton Glaser graphics and the absolute cream of Brit Psych (apart from the mighty Syd) remains unassailable in the moptops' celluloid career. Andy Partridge once described this as "chicken soup for the soul" and, for my generation, I think it's true. It works as a fantastic kids movie, but, like all kids classics, it stays with you for the rest of your life.
Yes, even despite knowing that the voices weren't done by the fab four themselves, I still regard this as THE Beatles movie. It cherry-picks their finest lysergic moments from 1965 onward; it works the songs into the meager yet inoffensive plot AND it has Lance Percival as Young Fred and Dick Emery as everyone else! I must have seen it 20 times and I still giggle at the exchange : "Look, a school of whales!", "They look too old to be at school", "A university, then", "University of whales?"
Interestingly it was directed by George Dunning, the Toronto-born animator who worked with Norman Mclaren in the 40s, who never seemed to do anything following this. Wonder what happened to him (see comments:)?


Chris Jones said...

Well, as an addendum to my own ramblings, I found out what happened to George Dunning. Turns out he was solely responsible for the Lucy In The Sky...section of YS. This excellent article tells of how George died in 1979 while halfway through a production of the Tempest. Has anyone out there seen The Maggot (1973) or his interpretation of Andrew Marvell's Damon The Mower (1972)? They sound fascinating.

Chris Jones said...

addendum no.2:
interestingly it turns out that Dunning's style, which was much more pared-down and less pop-informed than his co-workers (love the reference to him being the only member of the production team who wore a suit and tie), was influenced by poster designer Heinz Edelmann, who worked on the film too. More on this at a later date...

Peter said...

very popular with my youngest daughter at one point, when it was barely out of the video player. i know every bloody frame. made a change form charlie and the bleedin' chocolate factory tho..:-)