Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Yellow Submarine Remake?!

Recently Variety reported that Disney is planning a remake of the animated classic Yellow Submarine. The remake is to be directed by Robert Zemeckis and will utilise the motion capture technology utilised on his Beowulf to create a computer animated film. Currently, Disney is trying to get the rights to The Beatles' songs used in the original film.

Forrest Gump and Beowulf notwithstanding, I respect Robert Zemeckis as a filmmaker. He has directed some of my favourite films over the years, including Used Cars, the Back to the Future trilogy, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Despite my admiration for much of Zemeckis's oeuvre, I must say that I have this sick feeling at the pit of my stomach when I think of a Yellow Submarine. There are some films that simply should not be remade.

As a Beatles fan nearly since birth, I have fond memories of watching Yellow Submarine as a child. I remember that CBS showed on or around July 4 every year for many years. As an adult I must admit that my appreciation for the film grew even more. Quite simply, it is my favourite animated film of all time, even more than Disney's Pinocchio. I then have a very strong attachment to the film.

I am not alone in this. Yellow Submarine as come to be regarded as a classic by many people. And there's good reason for this. Yellow Submarine was in many ways a very ground breaking film. It was the first animated feature to have a rock soundtrack, and one of the earliest animated films inspired by pop art. Such is its reputation that, even though The Beatles' participation in the film was minimal at best (they did not even provide their own voices), that many Beatles fans count it among The Beatles' film. Quite simply, it is The Beatles' movie that is not a Beatles movie.

It is for that reason that I am concerned over any attempt to remake the film. Let's face it, the past twenty years have seen classic films remade with disastrous results, often by talented directors. Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho was an utter travesty, even though he had directed such films as Drugstore Cowboy and My Private Idaho. Jonathan Demme had directed the Oscar winning Silence of the Lambs, but his version of The Manchurian Candidate was horrible. Even a director the level of Martin Scorsese could not improve upon a classic. While his result with Cape Fear were nearly as catastrophic as Van Sant or Demme's tries at remaking classic, it is still a far cry from the original.

Given my attachment to the film and the rather poor remakes of classics that have come out in the past two decades, I cannot help but dread any attempt to remake Yellow Submarine. In fact, I rather hope that Disney does not get the rights to the songs or that Apple Corps denies the studio the use of The Beatles' images. Let's face it, any remake of Yellow Submarine is going to have to feature The Beatles and their music. If it has neither, then it is bound to fail and I think Disney and Zemeckis realise that. I must say that this is one remake I definitely do not want to see made.


Raquel Stecher said...

It seems like Hollywood is doing anything to milk the cash cow before it goes dry!

This seems a shame. I think the only good thing is that it could introduce The Beatles to younger generations.

I just sent you an e-mail about this. FYI.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I know we've discussed this before on various blogs and other venues, but I really am getting tired of these needless remakes. I keep looking for someone to announce that they are remaking Citizen Kane or Casablanca...

I do agree the remake could introduce The Beatles to new generations, which is good. Still, it makes me queasy to think about it.

Thanks, Raquelle!