Yellow Submarine

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Details At A Glance

Category Animation Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.66:1 non-16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono)
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1968, 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - John Coates (Production Supervisor) with additional comments by Heinz Edelmann (Art Director)
Running Time
86:19 minutes
(not 89 minutes as per packaging)
Other Extras Main Menu Animation & Audio
Scene Selection Animation & Audio
Isolated Music Score
Featurette-Making Of: Mod Odyssey (7:38)
Storyboard Sequences - 3
Crew Interviews
Gallery-Original Pencil Drawings
Gallery-Behind The Scenes Photos
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (24:42)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Menu
Region 2,4 Director George Dunning

Warner Home Video
Starring Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music The Beatles
George Martin

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ?1.66:1 ?1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Yellow Submarine is an animated feature starring The Beatles. Made in 1968, the plot is quite loose and meandering, in character with the times. Loosely, Pepperland has been overrun by the Blue Meanies, who hate music. A frantic dash for help involves a Yellow Submarine being dispatched to the real world to pick up our heroes, who come to the rescue of Pepperland.

    Whilst this is the basic plot, the actual enjoyment of this film comes from the very meandering way it goes about realizing its plot - the fun is in the way it gets to where it is going, rather than where it actually goes. There are lots of bad puns, wry British humour, caricatures of stereotypes, and lots of great Beatles music, and it holds up surprisingly well considering that it is over thirty years old.

Transfer Quality


    Right at the outset of this review, let me state that this is a surprisingly good transfer. There are certainly faults with it, but given the age of the source material, these are relatively minor.

    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. I would presume that this was the original theatrical aspect ratio of this movie, though one American reference I found to this film stated that it was presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which may have been the American aspect ratio, cropping the top and bottom of the frame.

    The transfer was generally sharp and clear, though certainly not in the league of current generation transfers. For a thirty year old film, however, it looks remarkably good. White level was a minor problem, with whites tending to be slightly off-white or grey rather than pure white. This is likely to be a source material issue rather than a mastering issue. Shadow detail of the few lives shots was lacking, and there was some mild low level noise in the live shots, but nothing overly concerning.

    Typically, the colours were vibrant and strong. At times, however, they were a little uneven - once again this is more likely to be the fault of the original source material rather than of this transfer.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Aliasing was present at times, with closely spaced lines being the main culprits. This was quite problematic for brief sequences, such as for the Nowhere Man record-playing sequence, but overall it was not a major problem. Some jerkiness was seen in the animation, but this was apparently present in the original source material. Film artefacts were seen, but they were surprisingly rare.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed in Chapter 11 at 24:42. It is very well placed during a natural fade-to-black and a natural silence in the soundtrack which makes the transition all but unnoticeable.


    There are six audio tracks on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, and Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 5.1. The 5.1 tracks are all mastered at the higher bitrate of 448Kb/s rather than at the usual Dolby Digital 5.1 bitrate of 384Kb/s. The default soundtrack is the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I listened to both the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and to the Audio Commentary.

    The second audio track is the original mono film soundtrack, and I compared this track with the remastered 5.1 track in selected portions of the disc. Unlike most other 5.1 remasters of older films, this is an exemplary remaster, with the surrounds being quite well utilized.

    Dialogue was quite clear and easy to follow, though at times it was a little muffled and distorted. It was much clearer in the 5.1 track than it was in the original soundtrack.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The score by George Martin and The Beatles comprised a combination of songs from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album and original compositions from George Martin. Clearly, since the animation was inspired in large part from the music, the music suits the on-screen action aptly.

    In contrast to the majority of 5.1 remixes of old film soundtracks, this one utilizes all 5.1 channels surprisingly effectively. Most of the time, a 5.1 remix means that the music is placed in the left and right front channels and the dialogue in the center channel, with the surrounds and subwoofer remaining silent. This is not the case with this remix. All 5.1 channels are utilized for this remix, with music being placed throughout the soundfield, and special effects also being placed throughout the soundfield. Admittedly, the majority of the sound effects are panned mono sound effects, but to hear them appear throughout the soundfield instead of just in the center channel is a pleasant surprise. Ambience is effectively used at times to create a feeling of spaciousness.

    The .1 channel got moderate use with the music.


    This disc has a relatively good selection of extras.


    This is a 4:3 menu with nice animation and audio in an appropriately whimsical style. Scene selections also have animation and audio, though not of the scenes themselves.

Audio Commentary - John Coates (Production Supervisor) with additional comments by Heinz Edelmann (Art Director)

    I found it a little hard to determine whether or not John Coates was watching the movie as he was making his comments, since at times his comments related directly to the on-screen action, and at other times they bore no relation to the on-screen action. I suspect that what may have occurred was that selected scenes were directly commented on, and then more general interview discussion was edited into the blank spaces in between these scenes, as the commentary does seem a little disjointed at times. Nonetheless, it is a worthwhile commentary to listen to. John Coates is interesting to listen to, and has a lot to say about this movie. Some additional comments by Heinz Edelmann are tacked on right at the very end of the commentary (in the last 6 1/2 minutes in fact), and this is clearly merely an audio interview that has been edited into the commentary track.

Isolated Music Score (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)

Featurette-Making Of: Mod Odyssey

    This is relatively brief and is of quite poor video and audio quality.

Theatrical Trailer

Storyboard Sequences

    There are three of these, one of which compares the storyboards to the final animation.

Cast Interviews

    These are relatively brief, and not particularly interesting

Gallery-Original Pencil Drawings

Gallery-Behind The Scenes Photos


R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 and Region 1 versions of this disc are identically-featured.


    Yellow Submarine has had a sterling restoration job done on it, and it belies the age of the film. It is not quite my cup of tea, but any Beatles fan would be overjoyed at the quality of this disc.

    The video quality is extremely good considering the age of the source material.

    The audio quality is remarkably good for a 5.1 remix from a mono and stereo source.

    The extras are very good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
26th September 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer