Saturday, 11 October 2008

"Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" (from "Yellow Submarine")

When I think of the 1968 Beatles movie, Yellow Submarine, I tend to consider the songs rather than the complete film. Directed by George Dunning the movie set a trend that moved animation onwards and upwards, ignited an industry, to television commercials and beyond, providing an alternative to Disney, though as any reader of my blog will recognise this is not a slight on some of the best animation around (Tex Avery, Chuck Jones). However, to be candid, I find the entire movie a trifle indigestible in one sitting. So I thought I'd amuse myself examining in the next weeks one or two of the songs and their animated moments. Two on-line articles provide far more information that I've time to muster. The always readable Frazer Diamond and his Toonhound, and a ten year old article for the encyclopedic Animation World Magazine ( written by Karl Cohen timed to celebrate the movie's thirtieth birthday - it's over forty years old now. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (alternatively, alongside over 2,000000 viewers, via YouTube) has a combination of styles all in the one song. The constantly revolving changes of colour are bewildering even today. The most traditional element is the depiction of John Lennon, the rest is a series of almost (but not quite) unrelated images often seen inside heads, as befits a hallucinogenic experience I guess. Serried ranks of Xeroxed pop art, Warhol-esque dancing girls; heads on the beach under clouds out of Magritte or Dali; impressionistic swirls of paint for girl on horse or more dancers; rainbows, kaleidoscopes, John Lennon. It is a compelling compendium. And the colour...gosh, the colour. Lennon's song is the most psychedelic of the whole Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Blighted with an analytic mind I used to attempt to discern cogent logic in the lyrics without success until I worked out that "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" spelt out LSD. Easy after that: "Climb in the back with your head in the clouds,/And you're gone." Just to help I'll place the screenshots in reverse order.

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