krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
[personal profile] krpalmer
At the beginning of the year, I watched for the first time an animated feature film made in Japan half a century ago. Horus: Prince of the Sun did seem an interesting piece of work and one step along a path leading to today (although I certainly haven't taken in every other step along that way). The supplementary material on-disc, though, in trying to build up just how important the movie had been, mentioned another animated feature film from 1968 with comments I might risk paraphrasing from memory as "Yellow Submarine was a cheery holdover from 1967's doubtless chemically enhanced optimism; Horus was a display of 1968's grittier, violent, protesting mood." At least sometimes a little resistant to feelings of being hard-sold (especially when it seems to include bonus putdowns), I got to thinking about that other movie and how long it had been since my family had taped it off the educational channel's movie show (along the way, I've collected the canonical central albums of the Beatles discography), and before the year was out I'd got around to ordering a Blu-Ray of it. (In the meantime, I'd watched a third movie first opening in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey, over again. Michael Benson's book Space Odyssey had mentioned some people had gone straight from working on Stanley Kubrick's movie to Yellow Submarine, managing to find a more interesting job than tracing and painting black mattes over endless frames of model photography to aid in compositing the special effects.)

One other thing I'd got to thinking along the way was that there did seem a contrast between just how many people know about Yellow Submarine as opposed to how I'd only really picked up on Horus not that long before seeing it (although I did come to realise two "books on anime" I'd bought in recent years had mentioned it under a previous, perhaps less compelling English title, "Little Norse Prince.") With that thought formed, though, I then happened to think that while I've already mentioned seeing a path traced from Horus to the modern "anime industry," Yellow Submarine showed up just as the English-language animation industry was making its final retreat from "Golden Age" to "Saturday mornings." It was tempting to suppose the much better-known movie had in fact wound up less influential "in ways that really matter" (even if I did know an official NASA short film about the early-1969 mission of Apollo 9 had used the orchestral pieces on the B-side of the Yellow Submarine album).

As I opened up the Blu-Ray case, though, I found a booklet with an introduction from John Lasseter (I looked up recollections he'd been a pitchman for the Studio Ghibli movies perhaps most directly linked to Horus, only to be reminded bad workplace behaviour had caught up with him lately) that had mentioned Terry Gilliam's "Monty Python's Flying Circus" animation and short pieces on Sesame Street as drawing inspiration from Yellow Submarine. I did try to remind myself my viewpoint isn't omniscient as I started watching the movie.

It had been a long time since I'd watched the movie (and it must have been in "pan-and-scan" back then), but I did keep thinking I could remember a good bit of its journey back to Pepperland, that sense of comforting familiarity perhaps only starting to fade near the end (later on, I looked up that one of the songs had been taken out of the version I'd likely seen). I am a bit conscious that its music-video vignette structure, linked by an almost fairy-tale plot, isn't like a lot of the animation I watch (and I was perhaps ready to see Ringo as the one Beatle in the movie not utterly unflappable and functioning with full-blown cartoon protagonist powers, making him a bit more interesting along the way), but I can at least try and say "variety is good for you." One thing that did keep sticking with me was how "flat" the bright colours looked.
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