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04th January, 2024

Memorabilia Spotlight: Yellow Submarine Animation Cels

Along your journey through The Beatles Story’s immersive exhibition, you will encounter and explore our very own yellow submarine! All aboard and full steam ahead as we dive into the story behind the original animation cels you can expect to find here.

This group of four original gouache on celluloid animation cels depict all four of The Beatles, from scene #5 of the classic 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. These small pieces of art are actual frames of animation from the film! 

The traditional hand-drawn animation process employed during the production of Yellow Submarine creates moving images by meticulously hand-painting each individual frame onto celluloid material – hence the name animation cel. Traditional animation can be traced back to Emile Cohl’s 1908 Fantasmagorie (which is considered to be the first cartoon) and was later mastered by the likes of Walt Disney and Warner Brothers during the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of Animation in the US from the 1930s to the 1960s. 


"I love the Disney films, so I thought this could be the greatest Disney movie ever - only with our music. That would be a lovely mix. They didn't want that, though, and luckily it wasn't my decision. Looking back on the film, I do like it now. It's really quite interesting."

– Paul McCartney


According to The Beatles’ official website, “Yellow Submarine sits alongside the dazzling Pop Art styles of Andy Warhol, Martin Sharp, Alan Aldridge and Peter Blake.” It’s unique visual style, considered groundbreaking, can largely be attributed to Art Director Heinz Edelmann. The changing style of animation throughout the feature was a clever tactic by Edelmann to retain interest as the movie progressed. This beautifully melded together techniques such as rotoscoping, hand-drawing animation and live-action photography.


"I loved yellow submarine. I thought it was really innovative with great animation. The sea of holes, the Blue Meanie syndrome - it's still great and I'm glad we were involved with it.”

 – Ringo Starr



‘Yellow Submarine’ in stats:

14 Scripts

40 Animators

140 Technical Artists

132,000 Frames of Animation



Alongside these original animation cels is an Ivor Novello award presented to Northern Songs Ltd. for The Beatles' song Yellow Submarine in 1966. Northern Songs Ltd. was founded in 1963 by music publisher Dick James, Brian Epstein, John Lennon and Paul McCartney to publish Lennon-McCartney songs.

The award name is engraved on the base of the bronze statuette of Euterpe, muse of music and lyric poetry in Greek mythology.

Mason Griffiths

Mason is the Content and PR Manager at The Beatles Story.

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