Friday, December 5, 2014

Magical Mystery Tour

Magical Mystery Tour; musical, UK, 1967; D: Bernard Knowles, S: Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Jessie Robins

Richard Starkey and his aunt Jessie board a bus for a magical mystery tour. The bus is filled with passengers, including a tour director, a hostess and a dwarf. Along the bus drive through the countryside, they stop by and encounter several misadventures, including entering a small tent holding a screening room inside, whereas Jessie has dreams about food in a restaurant. At the end of the journey, they reach a stage where the Beatles perform a song.

The 3rd out of only four films featuring the Beatles - excluding their documentary "Let it Be" - "Magical Mystery Tour" is almost unanimously considered their weakest film, and with only 52 minutes of running time, their also shortest and least inspired one. The film is deliberately confusing, trying to just play out as a film without a plot or a script, full of random ideas, yet most of them are underdeveloped and do not have a point, which makes them - and the whole film - seem unfinished. The ending could very well come at any point, since nothing connects with anything. The main framing point, the bus drive through the countryside, is stimulative, but it is constantly interrupted with various fantasy sequences that stick out as a sore thumb (a man dreaming that he is at the beach with Ringo's aunt Jessie; Jessie dreaming of food in a restaurant; the magicians; dwarfs wrestling...), ultimately creating a bizarre contradiction - the Beatles in a weak film. Only small crumbs of fun are present here, such as the "stolen" moment where Lennon has an exchange with a little child ("I have a present for you. Do you know what it is?" - "No." - "Take a guess!" - "No." - "Take a guess!" - No!" - "Well, I will give it to you anyway"). Admittedly, one has to point out that almost every film Beatles film was surreal, but this one was the least fun and has the weakest soundtrack of them all (the weak song "I Am the Walrus" does not give you a kick as much as the songs in "A Hard Day's Night", for instance). However, the Beatles would a year later spectacularly redeem themselves with their best film, the dreamy "Yellow Submarine", which is a holiday for film buffs.


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