Friday, July 19, 2013
Magical Mystery Tour. It wasn't readily available when I was younger, and, frankly, it had such a terrible reputation that I purposefully avoided it later on. So, after decades of waiting, and with super low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself enjoying this bizarre little film. I certainly wouldn't argue that it's great cinema, but I would argue that it's a fascinating and even important piece of work that doesn't deserve its bad reputation. Part Monty Python, part Fellini, part Godard, and full-out freaky-ass weird psychedelic, it's no wonder that it bombed when shown on British national television the day after Christmas, 1967. THAT decision is the real mistake in the history of the Magical Mystery Tour. The film should've been shown on college campuses, not broadcast to a bunch of middle-class Brits on Boxing Day. (And in black and white to boot!!!) But taken on its own, the film has a lot to offer. Personally, I love the Beatles's psychedelic sound, so the music alone is real treat. And all of the song sequences are interesting and filmed well. "I Am the Walrus" captures the totally surreal and slightly creepy vibe of the song. (Good trivia question - If John is the Walrus, who are the other three in the movie? Ringo seemed to be The Rooster.) Harrison's "Blue Jay Way" (an underrated tune in the catalog, IMHO) is totally trippy, with an obvious nod back to the early surrealist films, with an actual reference to Man Ray's "Kitty" photograph included. It also has a sly sense of humor, with "Magical Mystical Boy" scrawled on some guy's chest with a marker, referring, I imagine to George's reputation for spiritual investigation at that point. "Fool on the Hill" has a beautiful cinematic moment when Paul is running along a hill, with a forest on the next hill in the background. Magical Mystery Tour deserves to be seen on a big screen (another weird aspect to producing it for the telly - it's visually arresting, with some lovely cinematography at times. Interestingly, the Director of Photography for the film was "Richard Starkey." But even the non-musical sequences were interesting. There's a scene where John is serving up shovel-loads of spaghetti to an obese woman that seems to have been a major influence on the later Monty Python scene from "Meaning of Life" with the man who eats too much. And there are many other scenes that point directly towards Monty Python, whose show would start two years after MMT. Anyway, not a brilliant masterwork of cinema, but definitely worth watching, especially if you're a Beatles fan.
Posted by cowboyangel at 7/19/2013 02:47:00 PM