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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Magical Mystery Tour goes Blu-ray

The first time I saw this movie I thought it was a load of shit - I'd gotten heavily into the Beatles sometime in the early 80's and when I managed to get hold of a pirated VHS of this film I wasn't aware of the entire Beatles body of work.I think I'd listened to most of the albums but as far as movies went I'd only ever seen A Hard Day's Night and Help. Magical Mystery Tour in comparison to those two mop-top comedies  made no sense at all. Of course all these years later I know the Beatles work inside out and have come to appreciate Magical Mystery Tour for what it is - an indulgent mess of a movie true enough but nevertheless a fascinating snapshot of the times.

'We knew it was indulgent but it was a zany representation of vivid minds of the time." Paul McCartney.

The blu-ray/DVD release of the movie features a perfect digital remaster of the iconic film, but by far the chief selling point is a director's commentary from Macca himself and a selection of extras which offer inisghts into the making of the movie and the supporting case - the Ivor Cutler selection was particularly entertaining. The info on the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band was also great, as are the clips on The Beatles on Top of the Pops. I'd also never seen the Magical Mystery promo that is included here. It may have been specially produced for this release since it seems to vintage footage edited into a modern surrealist video of people coming and going in  a snowy landscape.

Also of interest is the short film Nat's Dream which was directed by John Lennon and features Ivor Cutler going through a Chaplinesque routine - least it would be Chaplinesque if old Charlie had ever been off his face on acid. It's an inventive piece and you can imagine Lennon grinning behind the camera. We also get the footage of the band Traffic performing Here we go Around the Mulburry Bush which was shot for inclusion in Magical Mystery Tour but never used.

All in all it's a great disc that belongs in the collection of any Beatle fan - and Macca's commentary is absolutely excellent. It's like sitting next to  a particularly chatty McCartney while you watch the movie.

'We made it up as we went along.' Paul McCartney.

The bus was pointed towards Cornwall, McCartney reveals chiefly because he and John had fond memories of the UK holiday resort. He also points out that - "we didn't do proper things like proper filmmakers do"- which became a nightmare in the editing room, but Macca claims allowed for a certain looseness with the finished film. Many of the scenes were made up on the spot with suggestions coming from the band themselves as well as the actors and extras.

McCartney claims that it took many years for the film to find an audience who could appreciate it and was surprised when Steven Speilberg told him the film was used when he had been at film school as an example of how alternative movies could be made.

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