Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eleanor Rigby

The Eleanor Rigby segment* from "Yellow Submarine" is my favorite animation with a Beatles song. Here's why:

The Creators Went Beyond the Obvious

A lessor effort might follow they lyrics exactly- showing Miss Rigby picking up the rice as the wedding party departs. Instead we get a quirky series of gloomy, grimy city images.

Not Too Maudlin.

This isn't a happy song. Too much pathos would have made it a sapfest. Thus the whimsical touches. For example, while we see a tombstone, we also see the cute submarine chugging around behind it. Or the end when the camera pans to the top of a building and there's a guy on top. With butterfly wings.

Clever Use of Animation

The animation is limited. A leaf falls, smoke curls, the camera moves, the sub hovers. Yet it works. Most of the people are high contrast loops of film. This makes them seem distant and robot-like (strangers in a city?), but it's funny in places too, like the hapless ball players, lurching in the field.

Ending the song with a mad jumble of road signs was a good idea. They could have ended it with morbid imagery ("oh isn't this sad and hopeless") or some upbeat nonsense like a pretty sunset ("yes, it can be lonely out there but there's always hope"). Instead we get the road signs. "Where do [we] all belong?" it seems to suggest "Beats the heck outta me... ...but that doesn't mean we can't have fun."

*The clip is supposed to appear at with the post, but for some reason it's not always showing up, so I added the link.

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