In the two years since Disney pulled the plug on director Robert Zemeckis’ long-gestating, 3-D, CGI redux of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, the filmmaker has finally grown philosophical about the project. “That would have been a great one to bring the Beatles back to life,” the director told Total Film Magazine. “But it’s probably better not to be remade – you’re always behind the 8-ball when you do a remake.”
That said, it’s impossible not to imagine what a new Beatles flick might be like. Now that Zemeckis is out, who might pick up the mantle for a new Beatle-inspired film? Me.
Should one be made? Well, to quote John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields,” “I think I know, I mean a yes but it’s all wrong, that is I think I disagree.” Equivocating aside, here are some Beatle-ly pitches I just made up …
1. Paul is Undead
Think Eddie and the Cruisers meets Night of the Living Dead. Inspired by the infamous “Paul is Dead” meme of 1966, this supernaturally-enriched fable assumes that Paul was indeed killed in a suspicious car wreck and was replaced by a double/government puppet for reasons only known to MI5, MI6 and Number 9. Forty-years later, a couple of occultist uber-fans locate the real Paul’s tomb and bring him back from the dead. The plan was to have zombie Paul help solve his murder and avenge his death. What he really wants to do, however, is mount a comeback tour. Before his limbs fall off. Note: Just learned there’s a version of this title for Kindle with an actual movie in the works!
2. A Spaniard in the Works: the Movie
Adaptation meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Among the books thought impossible to translate to the screen are James Joyce’s Ulysses, the dictionary and, I surmise, anything written by John Lennon. Given his surreal word play and avoidance of traditional narrative, it might be best to steal a page from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s playbook and create a “meta” story that conveys a screenwriter’s frustration with making Lennon’s pithy doggerel and surreal pen and ink drawings screen-worthy. Total running time: six minutes – two on titles, four spent on the writer lying on a couch, one on end-credits. The entire budget will be spent on licensing the music rights to “Act Naturally” so Aimee Mann can do a crappy cover of it.
3. Imagine in Imax 3-D
Inspired by the Fluxus art movement of which Yoko Ono was a prominent personality, Imagine in Imax 3-D draws from Lennon’s lyrical motif, “Imagine there’s no …” but takes it to the nth degree when it asks audiences to “Imagine there’s no movie,” which is easy if you try since the film exists only as a work of conceptual art. With a $300 million budget. Critics will heap piles of imaginary praise upon it and you can stream it right now on Netflix by closing your eyes.
4. Ringo Unchained
Back to the Future meets A Fist Full of Dollars. Ringo activates an experimental time machine and ends up touring the antebellum South in a medicine show led by Klaus Voormann. Meanwhile, the aberrations Ringo caused in the timeline find Paul dumping “Sgt. Pepper’s” in favor of a pirate musical (“Capt. Blueheart’s Sing-A-Long Sailor Brigade”) and John quits the band to work on his existential memoir “Nowhere, Man.”
5. Yellow Submarine 2: Dude, Where’s My Submarine?
The Blues Brothers meets the Hunt for Red October. The Beatles “get the band back together” when the Lord Mayor of Pepperland learns Blue Meanies have built a submarine of their own – one loaded with nuclear warheads. And it’s headed toward Pepperland. Reluctantly drawn back into the fray, the Beatles salvage their sub, overcome interpersonal conflicts and set off to thwart the vessel. Given his facility for wordplay, John handily decrypts an intercepted message and realizes that the killer sub’s captain is actually trying to defect to Pepperland. No one believes him. It turns out all you need is love and thermonuclear devices to conquer your fears and pretty much everything else.