Magical Mystery Tour [Blu-Ray]

BY Evan McDowellPublished Dec 7, 2012

In 1967, Paul McCartney devised the idea for Magical Mystery Tour: a group of British tourists board a bus, drive off into the countryside and experience a series of surreal events. These events include, but are not limited to, Ringo Starr's aunt dreaming of John Lennon shovelling spaghetti onto a table, McCartney as a military general mumbling nonsensical syllables and the entire group as wizards in outer space, directing the tour bus. In the commentary included on this newly restored edition, McCartney remarks that the film was completely unscripted and shot over a two-week span with a 16mm camera crew. The crew hoped that traveling with such a large group of actors and improvising scenes as they came along would make the movie unique. Some 45 years later, the sketches in the film haven't aged very well. Many of the dialogue-heavy sequences are forced and will likely only appeal to fans that need every second of footage that exists of the group together. For the decidedly casual Beatles fan, the film still serves a somewhat meaningful purpose. In its attempts at being "out-there," Magical Mystery Tour showcases the group moving away from the corporate world of Capitol Records and towards establishing their own label, Apple (which they would start shortly after the film was released). Additionally, some of the camera techniques used during the musical sequences remain impressive in their incorporation of lens and colour trickery, particularly Blue Jay Way's kaleidoscopic, dream-like sequence of George Harrison playing a keyboard drawn with sidewalk chalk. Due to the poor reception the film received upon its initial release, there are no surviving negatives. Because of this, the footage for this re-release has been culled from a variety of prints. This becomes apparent while watching the film, as some sequences are grainier than others, but overall this won't impact the average person's viewing experience. The disc includes over an hour of interviews with McCartney, Ringo Starr and a number of actors and extras that took part in the film. Completists and those looking for a snapshot of this transitional period will want to pick this disc up for these features alone. For everyone else, this release offers a whimsical (albeit dated) look at this period in the Beatles career.

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