Yellow Submarine is a 1968 British animated musical fantasy film based on the music of The Beatles.
The film was directed by animation producer George Dunning, and produced by United Artists (UA) and King Features Syndicate. Initial press reports stated that the Beatles themselves would provide their own character voices, however, aside from composing and performing the songs, the real Beatles participated only in the closing scene of the film, while their cartoon counterparts were voiced by other actors.
The film received a widely positive reception from critics and audiences alike. It is also credited with bringing more interest in animation as a serious art form. Time commented that it "turned into a smash hit, delighting adolescents and aesthetes alike".
The Beatles make a live-action cameo appearance in the final scene, which was filmed on 25 January 1968 prior to the band's trip to India. This was to fulfill their contract of actually appearing in the film. The cameo was originally intended to feature a post-production psychedelic background and effects, but due to time and budget constraints, a blank, black background remained in the final film. While Starr and McCartney still looked the same as their animated counterparts, Lennon and Harrison's physical appearances had changed by the time the cameo was shot. Both were clean-shaven, and Lennon had begun to grow his hair longer with accompanying lamb chop sideburns.
The Beatles' animated personas were based on their appearance in the promotional film for the song "Strawberry Fields Forever", with the exception of Paul being without his moustache. The film also includes several references to songs not included in the soundtrack, including "A Day in the Life" where the lyrics are referenced in the "Sea of Holes" scene, as well as the orchestral breaks earlier in the film, also from "A Day in the Life".
In The Beatles Anthology, the surviving Beatles, including Harrison, all admitted that they truly liked the film; regarding their initial non-participation, Harrison, who considered it a "classic", later admitted that he preferred that the group did not provide their own voices, feeling that the professional voice actors captured a certain "cartoonish" element far more effectively than they might have done themselves.
Ringo also revealed that for years he was approached by children and asked "Why did you press the button?", referring to when his character curiously pressed the panic button ejecting him from the submarine into the sea of monsters. Lennon also implied that his son, Sean, first realised his father had been a Beatle because of the film. After seeing Yellow Submarine at a friend's house, Sean came home asking why his father was a cartoon.