Latest posts by Devin McKinney (see all)
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DEVIN McKINNEY • The news comes through this morning that Magical Mystery Tour is to be released in remastered form on DVD and BluRay on October 9 in North America, a day earlier everywhere else. The remaster is more than welcome, with the advertised extras making the Deluxe Edition compulsory for the committed. (I just ordered mine.)
There’s been talk here of the music, but I don’t remember any real discussion of the movie. What do people think of it? Anyone who hasn’t seen it? I last saw it several years ago, having purchased a legit VHS edition briefly put out by Apple (which came with some odd extras of its own, namely, a 15-minute video mostly comprising home movies shot by Paul and Mal Evans on their 1967 African safari, narrated by Rolling Stone writer Ben Fong-Torres, and a certificate of some sort, all contained in a facsimile film canister—don’t know what someone was thinking when they put that package together).
I think the film is charming, if mindless and undisciplined (yes, I know that was the point; doesn’t mean it was a good point). If nothing else, you get to see the Beatles doing silly, touristy things in pretty English coastal country; talking to children and old people who don’t seem to care that they’re the biggest celebrities in the world; and generally comporting themselves as if they were, imagine this, ordinary, everyday people. You also get primeval music videos of the Magical Mystery songs, all so odd and rich, banal yet seductive, the imagery as mysterious as the organ drone of “Blue Jay Way,” as funky and offhand as “Flying,” as hungry and demented as “Walrus.” And—you get the Bonzo Dog Band doing “Deathcub for Cutie.”
A mishmash, but a colorful one. The UK that rejected it on its Boxing Day ’67 premiere clearly didn’t quite know what it had. Then again, it was shown in black and white, a stupefying miscalculation; and just because the Beatles seem historic today doesn’t mean they weren’t deserving of the axe at the time, for foisting off what must have seemed (as it does today, admittedly though joyfully) a long session of psychedelic masturbation.
Anyway, I’m curious what other people’s thoughts are on the film, and about the upcoming re-release.
I like what Paul says about the film in the promo clip I just saw: “Ladies and gentlemen, what you are about to see is the product of our imaginations… and believe me, at this point they are quite vivid.”
I’m with you in finding this film charming, if utterly pointless and silly. It has a pre-Python acid-twinged madness that makes it interesting as a cultural relic, but there are also enough lovable Beatley moments to keep any hard core fan at least moderately amused. (As a John girl, I have always gushed at his scene with Little Nichola.) And, of course, there’s I Am the Walrus, Your Mother Should Know, Death Cab for Cutie, a completely mad Victor Spinetti, and some genuinely adorable bad acting. (Ringo shouting at Aunt Jess so ineffectively that she bursts out laughing.) Oh yeah… and the spaghetti. Never understood why people hate on it so much. I mean, what’s not to love?
Well I’ve pre-ordered the deluxe edition of this from Amazon. I have never seen this movie in its entirety and have only seen bits and pieces — the Fool on the Hill bit, the Beatles dancing down the stairs, the Walrus video. It’s all a bit bizarre and wonderful and weird. And I can’t imagine any of today’s big-name groups doing something this loose and creative and risky.
I mean, really, can you imagine Muse or Kings of Leon or any other band at its peak nowadays producing some movie today like MMT?
I enjoy the movie as a series of proto-music videos; the “story” is somewhat annoying, but largely ignorable. I can’t imagine watching it in black and white! It would be like watching “The Wizard of Oz” in black and white. “Magical Mystery Tour” would be worth buying on Blu-Ray to get the colors at their most intense and vivid.
I can’t quite muster a defense of the film for any normal, not-an-obsessed-Beatle-fan type person, but I love watching it. It’s the only performance of “Walrus,” I love “Your Mother Should Know,” the bit with John playing with the little girl is adorable, and I like hearing the Beatles just being their weird selves like you can on studio outtakes.
Well, thanks to the headline on this blog post, I’ve had that song in my head for TWO days now.
“I’ve got a love-uh-ly bunch …” AARGH! 🙂
I think MMT’s saving graces are the incredible soundtrack and that The Beatles don’t take themselves too seriously as actors. Their humor is intentional and appropriate.
I once saw the Led Zeppelin movie, The Song Remains The Same, at a midnight screening and got stomach cramps laughing at the many unintentionally funny scenes featuring each band member in their “fantasy” persona…Robert Plant playing a medieval knight/Viking/Tolkien character, John Paul Jones as a 19th-century highwayman/family man, Jimmy Page as a wizard, and John Bonham as a gearhead/farmer.
Trust me, you have not lived until you’ve seen androgynous, hippy-dippy Robert Plant sic a falcon on one of his enemies or swordfight one of his opponents off the top of a castle into a moat!
You’re right, Drew, I could have used better judgment there.
I just stumbled upon this…like going back in a time machine to 1965! Check it out and let me know what you think!
Saki, I remember her from back in the day, when she was the eminence gris of rec.music.beatles. She was a first-generation fan and used to write some lovely posts on them.
Her KRLA page (http://krlabeat.sakionline.net/cgi-bin/index.cgi) has downloadable scans of all KRLA Beats from October 7, 1964, to May 4, 1968. A terrific resource. I’m looking at the April 2, 1966, issue, with John on the cover, headlined “Pop Lennon vs. Lennon Pop.”
I loved Saki’s posts. If there was anything that was Dullblog before Dullblog, it was her stuff.