Magical Mystery Tour
Come one - come all - come Beatle - roll-up, roll-up, and join the 'Magical Mystery Tour', which is a couch trip that travels from some-place to some-place else, jam packed full of wonderful, earthy, and surreal experiences for all in sunder.
Here, just have a look at what some of these passengers get up to during their travels:
- Richard Starkey thought that it would be a good idea if he brought his recently widowed Aunt, Jessie (Jessie Robins), along with him on this journey, so she could come to terms with her loss. However, is this a good idea in hindsight? She has a good time with bus-conductor, Buster Bloodvessel (Ivor Cutler), whilst Richard is left fiddling with his sticks.
- Paul McCartney is a thirty year old mop-haired dandy who is currently contemplating about two things whilst sitting on this bus: (1) Is he a fool on a hill? And (2) Is he an army man with no fixed ability?
- John Lennon and his pal, George Harrison, are two men with two very strange dilemmas niggling away at their very souls. No. Don't fret. It does not have anything to with the child who keeps on saying 'Nah!' all of the time. Instead, John thinks that he is an Egg-man (Wooo!), whilst George is constantly meditating on something that is never there but always is (Ohhh!).
Now apart from what Richard, John, Paul, and George are doing with themselves at the moment, you can also experience a ride to nowhere, a mumbled army roll-call, a cinema in a tent, and a stripper dancing to a raunchy song.
You know, a song that was a hit before your mother was born? Groovy.
Last week I reviewed the Monkee's homage to the 'Magical Mystery Tour' called 'Head' (click here for the review). So this week I thought I'd have a stab at reviewing the original as well. However, now that I have sat down, had a 'butchers', taken notes, and contemplated, digested, and transmographied what this flick is all about, what have I come up with? Huh? Facts and confusion dear reader. Facts and confusion.
Here, first off, these are the facts. Filmic facts of course: (1) After the death of the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, the fab-four decided to poll their wealth into the 'Apple Corp' foundation, for two main reasons. Firstly, to avoid a heavy tax burden due to the governments stance on their bludgeoning wealth. And secondly, to use this freshly formed organisation to showcase this merry tele-visual project. (2) The majority of this film was conjured up by Paul McCartney on a flight between
and America in
1967. The other members of the band did contribute as well, by default. (3) Although this film had a script, most of
the actors [major or supporting] were encouraged to improvise their own
dialogue, especially on the 'bus sections' of this movie. (4) A 'charabanc' used
to be an age old English custom where a group of people who were linked to a
social community [like a pub or a club for example], all hired a coach,
travelled to pastures new, and got pissed in a different location. (5) Actor, Victor
Spinetti, starred in three of the Beatles films, such as 'Help!' and 'A HardDays Night' [click on the links for the reviews]. (5) Near the end of the film you see a nondescript group playing on stage together. They were called 'The Bonzo
Dog Doo-Dah Band', and they became stalwart friends of both the Beatles and Monty Pythons
Flying Circus. Neil Innes even played a version of John Lennon in the film 'The
Rutles' [click here for review]. (6) Jimi Hendrix was cast in this film but
could not appear in it due to prior work commitments. (7) During production
John Lennon told Paul McCartney about a dream he had, where he shovelled
spaghetti onto a woman's plate. They both decided to stick John's dream into
the picture. (8) This project officially aired on English television on the 25th of December, 1967.
It was very ill received. Whereas in America -- where it was never officially aired -- it was very well received once it eventually 'leaked out' through a few independent television
networks there. (9) The 'Magical Mystery Tour' song was
supposed to be a part of the 'Sergeant Pepper' album, but the Beatles were not
able to over dub this piece in time for its release. (10) The 'Fool on the
Hill' sequence was shot in the South of France with Paul and a couple of his
mates. (11) Ringo Star blamed the BBC for the poor
critical response that this movie was bestowed with, stating that by them broadcasting
this film in 'black and white', the audience would not have been able to see
the 'colorful experience' that it was supposed to be. (12) John Lennon called
this flick 'The most expensive home movie ever made'.
OK, so now that I have the facts out of the way with, what about the confusion? Well, simply put, this film falls on it's ass for one reason, and one reason alone -- there is no story to this story, only a basic premise which the Beatles have used to showcase their music in. Granted, all of the 'musical interludes' are very well presented within fleeting vignettes darted though out the 'overall framework'. Moreover, some of the skit-like segments of this feature hold-up perfectly well on there own too -- and come across as surrealist and artistic snippets of times parts.
Though, on the reverse side of this argument, it is pretty safe to say that I could spot a number of pitfalls to this piece also. For example, apart from Paul and Ringo, it looked apparent that George Harrison did not want to be associated with this project in certain scenes, and it showed in his performance and his sparse presence. Plus, in addition to this, the lack of story and direction is very overt at times, as if certain 'segments' were plonked into place willy-nilly for the sake of length and running time.
Listen, I do not want to be negative about 'Magical Mystery Tour' at all. I love the Beatles. And I really am an avid fan of their work. Nonetheless, at the end of the day this film is purely for the die-hard Beatles-fans only, plus for those people who like to listen to good music. Agreed chaps?
THE RATING: B-