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Robert Zemeckis remaking Yellow Submarine


Variety reports: “Disney and director Robert Zemeckis are negotiating to remake Yellow Submarine, the 1968 psychedelic animated film based on the music of The Beatles… The studio has been quietly brokering a complicated rights deal that would give Zemeckis access to 16 original Beatles songs for a movie he will direct in the performance-capture 3-D digital production format he employed for A Christmas Carol.”

Zemeckis seems to have devoted his recent directorial career to animation and CGI-laden films, such as his soon-to-be-released animated take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which was preceded by the CGI-fuelled Beowulf in 2007.  Before that was the animated 2004 film The Polar Express.  After the November 6, 2009 release of A Christmas Carol,  Zemeckis will have three consecutive remakes under his belt (and the most recent film version of Beowulf was done a scant eight years before his version.  It was directed by Graham Baker in 1999.)

My personal prediction is that Yellow Submarine will lose much of its charm if given the slick 3-D digital treatment by Zemeckis.  The 1968 film is a historical artifact, besides being a fun and charming film that still stands up today.  You do not have to be a flower child to appreciate its whimsical humour.  More than that, it is an important film because of its fusion of animation and rock and roll, not to mention its connection to the most influential rock and pop group ever.  Should we remake things like that? I don’t really see the necessity.

The announcement of this remake sounds like another move by lazy Hollywood executives who would rather do another remake than come up with something original.  The only saving grace is that there is an attempt being made to use original Beatles songs rather than corny retreads.  I felt the reliance on covers (none of which were truly inspiring) was the Achilles’ heel of the otherwise ambitious Beatles-inspired musical Across The Universe.

Maybe I’m a luddite.  Maybe Zemeckis will prove me wrong with an amazing and transcendent remake that acts as a modern homage to the Beatles.  If so, I will be the first to praise him.

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