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25 Feb 2013

THE BEATLES' MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR REVISITED

By David Lee Andrews   Posted at  07:30   THE BEATLES

The Magical Mystery Tour Hey! You. Yeah, you! Come over here for a second and have a look at this will you. Huh? What do you mean you don't know what it is? It's a silly review. Silly. One about a documentary documenting a musical movie which was made quite some time ago. It was churned out in 2012, and lasts for about an hour or so. Give or take a Beatle.


The Magical Mystery Tour : The Film - The Documentary - The Boxed Set


THE STORY:
Some people thought it was too Avant-garde for its time. Whilst other people could tell that it was a slice of non-pretentious cinema. Still, what is Lennon's name made the Beatles come up with their movie, 'The Magical Mystery Tour'?   

Well, as the archive footage and the captions provided in this documentary can only show us so much; let's take another look, shall we?

  • What was this film about?  According to John Lennon, it was about a bunch of your average garden variety Joes, taking a coach trip from one place to some place else.
  • What songs were played in this production?   Magical Mystery Tour (Paul). The Fool on the Hill (Paul again). Flying (George and Ringo) Blue Jay Way (George). Your Mother Should Know (Paul yet again). I Am the Walrus (John).
  • Who came up with the idea behind this flick?   Paul McCartney, whilst waiting around in the studio trying to think of something to do.
  • Why was it Paul's idea?   At the time he was the only member of the band who was single, and hanging around in London's West-End, involving himself with filmmaking and the whole Avant-garde movement.   
  • How was the actor, Peter Fonda, involved with these proceedings?   He supplied the LSD -- a mind altering substance which can enhance a person's perceptions.
  • How did the Beatles cast who should join them on this cinematic coach trip? Now apart from those people they already knew, they cast the rest from an 'artist needing work' book.
  • When was it first shown?  On the BBC1, Boxing Day, 1967, in between 'The Petula Clark Show' and a Norman Wisdom comedy.
  • How was it received by the general public?   Even though the kids loved it, the adults hated it so much, that Paul McCartney had to defend this film the very next day on national television. 

OK, so that may be all well and good. But what do the people involved say about this film? Please check out some of these quotes taken from this program for the score:

  • Paul McCartney (diplomat) -- We wanted to show people what we were up to. However, we didn't know what we where up to.
  • Ringo Starr (peace and love) -- We ad-libbed a lot of it. There wasn't a script as such. It just got us from one place to the next.
  • George Harrison (the not so quite one) -- Every time the media built us up; they couldn't wait to slam us back down again. We gave them all the opportunity they needed with our 'elaborate home movie'.
  • Martin Scorsese (director par excellence) -- To me, the freedom of the picture is what I was attracted to. I didn't get the humor though.
  • Peter Fonda (a very nice man) -- It was a 'Magical Mystery Tour' of them. But no one could see that.
  • Terry Gilliam (artistic python) -- I liked the clear distinction between the generations. Coming from America, that was very refreshing indeed.
  • Neil Innes (bonzo with a gonzo) -- It was made like an art-house film. We in the 'Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band' could relate, because we came from a similar art-school background.
  • Paul Merton (have I got a quote for you) -- The establishment hated it; because The Beatles when from 'Take That' to... 'take this', ha!
  • Paul Gambaccini (pundit) -- I knew that the Americans would not be able to understand the conceit of a 'mystery tour'. Normally we like to know where we are going first.
  • Barry Miles (indica gallery owner) -- It was a very hedonistic time; which gave people the excuse to have sex, take drugs, and be creative.
  • Gavrik Losey (producer) -- Now Brian was dead, the boys where going to make the movie anyway. Like a vanity publication. But something more.
  • Michael Shersin (cameraman) -- There was a very abstract quality to their work. It was anarchic but wonderful to watch.

And with that, the fab-four quickly jumped back onto the coach again, and disappeared off to pastures new.

Never the end.




John Lennon in Rolling Stones MagazineTHE REVIEW:
Now prior to me telling you what I thought about this well-focused and rather poignant Arena documentary -- 'The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour Revisited' -- please allow me to spill some trivia that it didn't, OK? (1) Did you know that in the wake of Brian Epstein's death, and prior to the formation of 'Apple Corps', this flick was used by the fab-four to 'hide away' their taxes? As it was quite steep at the time. (2) The recording of this musical production was so loose, that seventy percent of the dialogue performed on the bus was improvised, actors were encouraged to create their own characters, and the final-destination was never really defined. (3) The large 'MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR' letters -- which were printed on the side of bus -- attracted so much unwanted attention from passers by, that John Lennon allegedly ripped them off, so he wouldn't appear in this film. He didn't want to be in it you see. And neither did George Harrison. (4) Not only does 'charabanc' mean a 'sightseeing tour bus', but it also mean's 'carriage with wooden benches'; mainly because it is a old French word used to describe a wooden vehicle that holds more than one person. (5) The stripper that appeared in this film -- Jan Carson -- was married to the producer, Paul Raymond, who produced the first movie starring the man who played Mister Bloodvessel, Ivor Cutler -- 'It's All Over Town'. (6) In 2011, famed film-director, Martin Scorsese, helped devise another Beatles related project, 'George Harrison - Living In A Material World', because he was very intrigued by what this one-time Beatle did after the band broke-up. (7) The same year this flick was made -- 1967 -- John Lennon became the first person to appear on the cover of the newly published entertainments magazine, 'Rolling Stone'. (8) Liverpool's famous 'Cavern Club' runs a tour called -- surprise-surprise -- 'The Magical Mystery Tour' (click here for more details).


The Beatles in The Magical Mystery Tour


Alright, so with all of that out of my head, how can I sum up my feelings towards this very well polished documentary?

The Hippy Beatles
Err... OK, picture the scene. My Dad and I are watching a so-called 'X' related musical talent-show one Saturday evening. Well, when I say watch, what I mean to say is 'narrate'. Every time some 'wannabe hopeful' prances about on stage and 'does their thing', either me or Daddy-Hitler would scream at the screen 'cr*p', 'f*ck off' or, 'I don't get it'. Moreover, once the 'wannabe' has completed their song, we can't seem to comprehend why one of the so-called 'judges' would praise this performance also!

Do you see what I'm trying to get at here, dear reader? Sometimes perception is a generational thing. What is one man's Elvis Presley is another man's Lady Gaga. I myself was trying to put a similar point across in my Magical Mystery Tour review (click if you know what's good for you). And I can categorically state for the record that the BBC were trying to do the same thing with this Beatles related anniversary special.


The Magical Mystery Tour Bus


Granted, I was funnier with my rhetoric, and presented it in a much quicker manner. However, this documentary did have a great cast of speakers on show; with all of them really adding an extra dimension to these proceedings that I did enjoy listening to.

Honest to God. 'The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour Revisited' is a great program to watch. And although I wasn't too keen on those 'home slanted' segments, I did enjoy what the 'people in the know' had to say, because it gave the overall piece a very personal and relevant vibe in execution. Don't you agree you bunch of scouse gits?




Fair enough. Say no more.

THE RATING: B

On a side note, Beatles Fans: Please check out the Beatles History Facebook Site when you have the chance, OK? It's a great community to be a part of. 

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