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Somewhere back in the 1980s I was excited to find Yellow Submarine in a catalog of movie scripts published by a company called Script City. I was always frustrated at how much dialog I missed in this movie so I ordered a copy. Remember that back in those days, Beatle fans usually only saw poor quality copies of the movie.
Much to my disappointment, the script I received gave no indication of being connected with United Artists or having been used in the production of the film. It was immediately obvious that it was whipped up by some poor lackey sitting there at a typewriter, trying her best to keep up with some 8mm print of the movie - ergo, "post production". There were errors galore. Not only did the transcriber have ears almost as bad as mine, but she quite evidently had never heard Beatle songs. "Lucy in the sky I could die for," indeed.
Now we have DVDs with ultra-high fidelity, not to mention subtitles, and I played Yellow Submarine with the Script City script in hand, noting all the discrepancies. My original inspiration for putting my findings up on the web was to have a good laugh. Well, that's petty enough - I doubt too many people could have done a much better job - but maybe there's a more important point to be wrung out here. Movie producers, it seems to me, should be very concerned about a movie-goer understanding the dialog. You see, that's kind of important for understanding the movie. Characters whisper and mumble; they talk at warp speed with take-no-prisoner accents and oddball voices - and this almost always over (or under) background noises that mostly seem to exist because movie-makers are too lazy to get rid of them, not because they're necessary.
(While we're on the subject, I've always felt the same way about live theater - too many lost words. Here's an idea anybody can have for free: "Totally Understood Shakespeare" where the dialog is delivered so that it can be digested by an intelligent person on the first hearing. For Shakespeare we would also need to swap out a few obsolete words, but that shouldn't harm the old boy's reputation any, eh?)
Anyhow, Yellow Submarine people, this is what a professional script transcriber could make of your soundtrack. There were loads of discrepancies, but I've just presented the most interesting ones below. In some cases a little joke was missed, in others, the transcriber actually came away with the opposite sense to what was intended. Note that Script City never once gets Jeremy Hillary Boob's last name right. It's not surprising they had a rough time with his jabber - for much of it, they just wrote, "Ad-lib."
The Yellow Submarine dialog as shown in the Script City script (scs) is presented first, and the actual dialog, taken from the DVD subtitle (dvd), is printed below it. Beatle people, you might have fun mentally replaying the Yellow Submarine movie as you read through the dialog below.
scs Narrator: Once upon a time, or maybe twice, there was an earthly paradise called Pepperland. dvd Narrator: Once upon a time, or maybe twice, there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland. scs Narrator: Eighteen thousand leagues beneath the sea it lay... dvd Narrator: Eighty thousand leagues beneath the sea it lay... scs Narrator: for why, I'm not too sure. dvd Narrator: or "lie." I'm not too sure. scs Chief Blue Meanie: Today Pepperland goes blue. Fire! dvd Chief Blue Meanie: Today Pepperland goes blooey. Fire! scs Chief Blue Meanie: Go Glove, point. And having pointed, bounce down. dvd Chief Blue Meanie: Go Glove, point. And having pointed, pounce! Go! [This is a play on a familiar verse of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ/Moves on...] scs Chief Blue Meanie: I haven't laughed so much since Bombay. dvd Chief Blue Meanie: I haven't laughed so much since Pompeii. scs Fred: I can't even make meself float. dvd Fred: I can't even make meself float. [You're both wrong! It's "me soap", not "meself". Was somebody cribbing?] scs scene description: Pumpkins drop from top of pic. centre onto Leader who freezes and is gradually buried by them. dvd shows big green apples, not pumpkins, of course. scs Ringo: Who is me. dvd Ringo: Woe is me. [Fred calls for help, letter by letter.] scs Fred: L is for lovely. dvd Fred: L is for love me. [Fred and Ringo see a roomful of familiar heroes, such as Batman.] scs Ringo: No. They'd hardly work, any rate. dvd Ringo: No, Fred, I only work with me mates. scs John: What day is it? Ringo: Saturday. John: Then George'll be here. dvd John: What day is it? Ringo: Sitar-day. John: Then George'll be here. [The clock hands are slowing down.] Ringo: Do you ever get the feeling that things aren't as rosy as they appear to be... scs under the circumstances? dvd under the surface? [Script City misses play on "on the surface".] [Ringo grows younger and younger.] scs Paul: Hey, Ringo, you're not half the man you used to be. dvd Paul: Hey, Ringo, you're not half the lad you used to be. scs Fred: Very soon we'll all disappear up our own suspense. dvd Fred: Very soon we'll all disappear up our own existence. scs Paul: Move the hands forward and see what happens. Fred: Turn away. dvd Paul: Move the hands forward and see what happens. Fred: Clever lad. scs Paul: Funny, a submarine remarkably like our own. John: Uncanny. dvd Paul: Funny, a submarine remarkably like our own. John: Uncannily. film caption: Sixty-four years is 33,661,440 minutes and one minute is a long time. [For the curious, that figure is correct, and it does include the 16 leap years.] Fred: You've got to steer clear. Ringo: Steer clear? Fred: Yes, steer. Clear? scs Ringo: Steer. dvd Ringo: Yes, dear. [The submarine is threatened by a monster.] scs George: Find the boxing gloves. Paul: Where'd he get boxing gloves? dvd George: Find the boxing button. Paul: Whoever heard of a boxing button? [The yellow submarine has buttons for everything!] [Now Ringo calls for help, letter by letter.] scs Ringo: Here, fella. dvd Ringo: E is for Ergent. scs Fred: Thunder in the vaults. dvd Fred: Put her in reverse. scs Ringo: The indians have got me! dvd Ringo: P is for Please! [Trying to escape the vacuum cleaner monster.] scs John: We want to pack it in. Fred: By all the sea in beds, we're losing power. dvd John: The motor's packin' in. Fred: By all the sea nymphs, we're losing power. scs Jeremy: Ad-lib. dvd Jeremy: Medic, pedic, zed oblique; orphic, morphic, dorfic, Greek. scs John: And who the bloody shears are you? dvd John: And who the Billy Shears are you? [The Beatles read Jeremy's card.] scs John: Jeremy! Paul: Hillary?? George: Oog?? Ringo: Phd. dvd John: Jeremy! Paul: Hillary?? George: Boob?? Ringo: What? [Ringo says "fud" for "Phd." The dvd blew this one.] scs Jeremy: This motorised spring has a broken down thing. dvd Jeremy: This motor, I see, has a broken down thing. scs Jeremy: I love to hit my bust, do models, finish my blueprints... dvd Jeremy: I must complete my bust, two novels, finish my blueprints... scs George: A fool for all seasons. dvd George: A boob for all seasons. scs Ringo: Hey, Mr. Boo, you can come with us if you like. dvd Ringo: Hey, Mr. Boob, you can come with us if you like. scs Ringo: Ok, Groovey, down the hatch. dvd Ringo: Ok, Boobie, down the hatch. [Jeremy analyzes the motor problem.] scs Jeremy: If they mix it, ha ha, just turn the screw. dvd Jeremy: Ipse Dixit, ha ha, just turn the screw. [In the Sea of Holes, almost to Pepperland.] scs Jeremy: I'll tell you forever, and quite imprecise, this is a condiment - that's right. dvd Jeremy: A chemical error, and quite imprecise, this is a condiment - a spice. scs Jeremy: Faces and fingertips.. Ad-lib dvd Jeremy: Thesis, antithesis, synthesis, causes of causal causation. scs Ringo: The booby's making more and more sense. dvd Ringo: The Boob is making more and more sense. scs George: Well he's not here now. Paul: Well he must have jumped us then. dvd George: He's not here now. Paul: He must have jumped ship then. [Script City correctly supplies the well's, hey's, er's, um's, etc.] scs Ringo: Booby, Jeremy, Booby, where are you? dvd Ringo: Booby, Jeremy, Hillary, where are you? ["sea of green, sea of green, sea of green"] [Referring to their adventures on the way to Pepperland.] scs John: Reminiscent in many ways of the great Mr. Ulysses. dvd John: Reminiscent in many ways of the late Mr. Ulysses. scs Lord Mayor: Oh, pizzicato, young Fred. dvd Lord Mayor: Holy pizzicato, young Fred. [Script City turned a Batman joke into something slightly rude sounding.] scs Paul: They're quite cute really. dvd Paul: We're quite cute really. [Not as bad as it looks on paper; the subject was the Beatles' faces.] scs Lord Mayor: You could impersonate them and rally the band to rebellion. dvd Lord Mayor: You could impersonate them and rally the land to rebellion. [The Blue Meanies shrink from the music.] scs John: Ok you guys, it's drinking time in Pepperland. dvd John: Ok you guys, it's shrinking time in Pepperland. scs Paul: The coast is clear. George: Mills or thrills. Ringo: Well off we go. dvd Paul: The coast is clear. George: Now's our chance. Ringo: But how will we get over? scs Ringo: What did you say? George: Sshhh. Ringo: Good man. dvd Ringo: What did you say? George: Sshhh. Ringo: Good plan. [Spying a tree with large apples (not pumpkins.)] scs Paul: Look, breakfast. Ringo: They're on time for a bit of brekky. dvd Paul: Look, breakfast. Ringo: I'm dying for a bit of "brekky". scs Chief Blue Meanie: Let us not forget that heaven is blue. All over the world. dvd Chief Blue Meanie: Let us not forget that heaven is blue. Tomorrow, the world! scs Chief Blue Meanie: Bring me my bluebird. dvd Chief Blue Meanie: Bring in my bloopers. [John babbles a relativistic theory about the band in the glass ball, and Paul spoofs an old music hall song called "Any Old Iron".] scs Paul: Any old iron, any old iron. dvd Paul: Any old Ein, any old Ein, any, any, any old Einstein! [So the Script City transcriber must have known "Any Old Iron" and mentally "corrected" what she was hearing!] [Referring to the blue glass ball.] scs Paul: A drum beat might shatter it. dvd Paul: A drum break might shatter it. [Watching the glass sphere melt away.] scs Ringo: Like coloured jelly. dvd Ringo: Like coloured telly. [Just before causing flowers to bloom all over the Chief Blue Meanie.] scs Jeremy: Peace, peace, supplant the doom, and the bloom. dvd Jeremy: Peace, peace, supplant the doom, and the gloom. [After the Blue Meanies have been defeated.] scs Max: Yes, sir.. I mean your blueness. dvd Max: Yes, sir.. I mean your Newness. scs Jeremy: The world is a glorious thing. dvd Jeremy: Ah, "yes" is a word with a glorious ring.
Now it's time to play "Name That Tune". This is how the Script City transcriber heard Beatle lyrics in the soundtrack songs. You can't blame the movie people for these!
1. How to get all the lonely people
How to get all the lonely people
2. Green, brown, yellow orange and blue, I love you.
3. It doesn't really matter what chords I play,
The words I say or time of day it is
'Cause it's only a lonely song.
If you think the harmony isn't equal
You could be right, there's nobody there.
4. Thinking of his nowhere plans for nobody.
The world that you love is at your domain.
You're a man, the world as your domain.
5. Lemonade flowers of yellow and green, flowering rose in her hair.
Then we walk down to the bridge by a fountain,
The rocking horse people the most mellow kind
It smells so enchantedly fine.
You'll see the taxi appear on the shore waiting to take you away
Jump in the back with your head in the clouds and you're gone.
Lucy in the sky, I could die for
Lucy in the sky, I could die for
6. Nowhere you can see that isn't where you're meant to be.
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