Magical Mystery Tour Reviews
It is clear that little effort was put into this film. Poor editing. No script. Poor acting. Poor directing. Poor camerawork. Where was George Martin!!??! It may have started with good intentions, from, I understand Paul McCartney primarily. However, I believe their strategy was to film a batch of potential misadventures and creative skits, followed by editing down to 1 hour and hope that something brilliant comes of it.
I am surprised that there is any critical acclamation attributed to this film. This production may have simply been an acid movie and predecessor to subsequent copycat efforts such as The Monkees' "Head" and Frank Zappa's "200 Motels". Several disjointed skits thrown together, altogether incoherent and meant to be watched while high on drugs. I feel sorry for sober people watching this, trying to extract some deep meaning, calling it art and giving it a favourable rating.
There is brilliance in their classic performances of "I Am The Walrus", "Hello Goodbye" and "Your Mother Should Know". These bits are classic and historic rock 'n' roll videos. This is somewhat painfully watchable; whereas Head and 200 Motels are not.
The music in this film however, is some of the greatest ever produced.
It is highly unusual, yes, but it manages to reach-through the screen and touch you, sometimes significantly so, and if that's not art then what is?
Particularly the scene in which the larger woman was eating and eating and eating, it was very visceral. Just at the right time there was a cut to a gentleman who ate some bread and the CRUNCH of his bite really got me where they intended. It truly is art.
Whilst it deserves respect for its artistic value alone, it also contains some wonderful music.
I have the remastered Bluray version as well as the original on VHS encoded digitally; the original is a much better experience. While it's great to see the lads in crystal clear high definition, it loses some of the magic of one's imagination in so far as being able to make out exactly what's happening on-screen. The blurry, grainy original leaves more to the imagination. That being said, the audio quality is far superior on the Bluray version, it was remastered very well (and I downmix to a lowly 2.1 channels).
I strongly recommend this film to anyone who is in an altered state of mind; perhaps you've stayed up really late and can't quite sleep? Put this on (in the dark and alone) and enjoy.
Wonderful art from some wonderfully creative characters. I can't believe Lenon was shot dead ;(
Before the days of the music video, publicising music on TV was a bit more tricky than it is today, but the Beatles had more clout (and money) than most so they could create a just shy of an hour long TV movie, first aired at Christmas to tens of millions, plugging songs from their new hit record. Well that was the plan anyway, but the end result is something of a mix of the good, the bad, and the very odd. Quite honestly though this is one of the better TV movies I've ever seen simply because it is so far removed from the typical dull and uninteresting dross you usually get with films that never see the inside of a cinema meaning you cannot help but admire its sheer craziness and fun. Plot wise there is nothing here at all, things just happen a pure random, while the Beatles themselves oddly don't actually do a great deal in terms of actual performances and are largely lost in their own film, with good old George Harrison hardly getting more than a couple of lines. It's clear why many disliked this, it's too weird and evidently cobbled together to be a hit with the drunk masses after eating too much turkey and chocolate, but looking at it now purely as a slice of 60's madness with a superb soundtrack, Monty Python style comedy, and sheer nostalgic fun meaning this is more noteworthy than most would have you think, just don't have high expectations beforehand.
Look, I'm not saying that this film is a mess, but it's not even filmed all that well, or at least in retrospect, and even then, while this film could look worse, even by today's standards, it had to have been difficult for viewers of the late '60s to deny the weak definition and bland lighting behind Daniel Lacambre's cinematography, whose framing's sloppiness had to have been immensely more difficult to deny, as Lacambre's framing feels occasionally incompetently claustrophobic, staying too tight on certain things, sometimes to the point where it becomes "extra" difficult to tell what in the world is going. I suppose the filming is reasonably forgivable, at least once you get used to it, but the fact of the matter is that something as simple of cinematography comes off as kind of shoddy, yet isn't the only technical hiccup in this film, whose audio mixing will occasionally get confused in its sloppily juggling soundtracks, while Roy Benson's editing proves to be even more exhaustingly confused at times. I'm not asking for too much out of a 1960s TV film, and besides, the technical shortcomings aren't too grating, but the point is that the film is a technical mess whose limited competence add to the unnerving cheesiness that this film would practically be nothing without. Sure, a lot of the final product's entertainment value rides on the camp factor, but there are times when all of the fun and games behind watching a whole bunch of silly filmmaking hiccups and fall-flat bits of humor start to die down, leaving you to only be able to digest the corn, which doesn't always go down all that well, distancing you with awkward, over-the-top silliness that would perhaps be easier to forgive if it wasn't firmly reminding you of just how thin the film is in the first place. There's plenty that's colorful about this film's non-story, but at the end of the day, it's utterly paper-thin and fluffy, with no development or, for that matter, actual narrative focus, wandering along one set piece after another until hitting certain event shifts that are meant to resemble plot points, yet feel like nothing more obligatory beats in the process of simply wrapping this fluff fest up, thus making for an aimless structure that opens plenty of room for you to focus upon the less natural shortcomings. The film is a downright mess of an inconsequential fluff piece for late-evening television during the holidays (Happy Boxing Day, y'all!), and I guess that's alright, because the final product isn't such a huge mess that you can't enjoy it, but make no mistake, there was never to be too much going for this film, and the film ends up having a lot of flaws going for it, thus making for a final product that runs a real risk of collapsing into, at best, mediocrity. Still, while there is plenty that's wrong with this film, there's about as much that's done right, or at least in a fun fashion, and that carries the film quite a ways as a piece of entertaining filler, as well as yet another showcase of good Beatles songs.
Sure, the musical numbers also get to be pretty problematic, because when they come into play, what narrative there is comes to a complete halt for the sake of aimless music videos that offer no supplementation to storytelling, just visual interpretations of Beatles songs that are often a bit too cheesy for their own good, much like the musical numbers in "Yellow Submarine", which at least had more visual flavor than this film's music videos, so, as a tribute to the Beatles' classic tunes, this film can't even get as much right as it probably should, and yet, with that said, while the musical numbers are ultimately pointless, they're pretty enjoyable by their own right, offering some colorful visuals to back songs that are generally decent, often quite good, and consistently entertaining. The musical aspects that are, of course, prominently played up in this Beatles film are rarely, if ever truly organic in their fitting into the final product, but whether they're just barely slid in or wedged in, once they've made their way into the final product, they liven things up quite a bit, though it's not like this film needs to heavily play upon classic colorful tunes in order to sustain some fair degree of liveliness. Everyone and their grandmother has, at one point or another, called the latest action-packed, thinly-drawn blockbuster plotless, but if you really want to see plotless, then check this film out, as its story is so paper-thin, it's all but impossible to see, but it is there, - or at least mimicked through a series of set pieces that tie into one central aspect, the titular "Magical Mystery Tour" - and once you find that you're able to run with it, it keeps you going, having a certain colorful, almost unpredictable and unapologetic silliness that establishes a certain degree of liveliness on paper, from which it is sprung to life by anything from relative high points in "writing" and direction, to performances that are just as colorful. I was going into this film worried that plenty of people were going to not really care about the project enough to try and deliver lines well or keep up some kind of charisma, but once you get down to the final product, while no one is an absolute delight to watch, charm is found throughout the cast, whether it be from the supporting players who make their distinct fluffy characters about as memorable as they're going to be in a film this brief and forgettable, or from the Beatles delivering their trademark dry charisma with a rich hint of lively spring. There's a certain talent on the screen that rarely, if ever abates, and that's probably the best thing that can be said about the film, though it's not enough to save the final product as decent, thus, the execution of this fluffy, but messy story must have enough to it to keep you going. Well, sure enough, while the writing and direction can be primarily blamed for the film's biggest issues, they can also be thanked as saviors of the film, because through all of the sloppiness is a script that turns in more than a few genuinely amusing jokes, or at least misguided comedic and fluffy moves that aren't so grating that you can't get a good laugh at the campiness, while Bernard Knowles' and the Beatles' direction never lets liveliness die too much, thus reinforcing the entertainment value that keep the final product alive as decent. Sure, the film is barely saved from mediocrity, but it is nevertheless carried far enough by its handful or strengths and great deal of campy entertainment value to stand as a genuinely fun piece of filler, forgettable and rocky though it may be.
When the tour ends, you take away an effort that is so pummeled by technical hiccups which range from editing hiccups to questionable cinematography, cheesy and often fall-flat fluff writing, and a thin, silly and unfocused non-narrative that it stops just short of collapsing into mediocrity, which is formidably challenged enough by a good soundtrack, colorful premise, charming performances and lively direction for "Magical Mystery Tour" to ride on as a fun little fluff piece that entertains thoroughly, even if it does fall flat in plenty of areas.
2.5/5 - Fair