It’s taken sometime to process the graphic impact of Heinz Edelmann’s The Yellow Submarine. George Dunning is credited for directing this Beatles feature film but the design was singularly birthed by Heinz Edelmann. Unfortunately both men have passed away, but even so, I believe history has left a trail that might account for how this style developed.
The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was a fusion of contemporary rock & roll and Victorian influences, including the British survival of two World Wars and the teachings of Aleister Crowley. Producer George Martin further sweetened the mixture with classical orchestrations. This touch of old and new sensibilities was simultaneously happening in the graphic arts of the time too.
Artists like Milton Glaser reached back into the past, recycling vestiges of Art Nouveau and the later Art Deco to create a contemporary style for the 60’s commonly called Pop Art. Heinz Edelmann also used this template to the design the world of Pepperland for The Yellow Submarine and caricatured the current designs with the fashionable bell-bottoms and boots of the day blown up to ridiculous proportions. This style was pirated by lesser talents like Peter Max through out the Psychedelic era.
Now, in the world of animation Walt Disney had impacted the field to the point that everyone was becoming a clone of Walt’s graphic style which tried to emulate nature more and more. Two filmmakers, Anthony Gross & Hector Hoppin, choose to experiment with the radically different aesthetic backlash Art Deco and the Modern Art movement was to the traditional classical representation.
Anthony Gross & Hector Hoppin made the Art Deco film Fox Hunt and being a British film that gained some notoriety, it’s not unreasonable to think that a young Heinz Edelmann or George Dunning might have seen it as impressionable youths. Graphically The Yellow Submarine owes a debt to Art Deco but there are a few scenes which might point to a direct influence. Fox Hunt has equestrian riders coming down Art Nouveau staircases very similar to the ones Ringo drives his red car down in The Yellow Submarine. It could all be coincidental I suppose, but…
|Riders descending staircases in Fox Hunt|
|Ringo's car descending staircases in The Yellow Submarine|
I did an earlier article on Gross and Hoppin speculating that their film La Joie de Vivre may have influenced the 1940 Disney classic Fantasia. You can find it here: https://joelbrinkerhoff.blogspot.com/2011/10/la-joie-de-vivre-influencing-fantasia.html