This 1968 oddity is probably a film only a total Beatlemaniac could love, but it carries both musical and historical resonance. It also gives intimations of what would happen in the next 30 years as artists gained more a... more »nd more power over how they were presented. The roots of virtually any rock star's vanity project (including Prince's Under the Cherry Moon) can be traced to this little Liverpudlian home movie. Fresh from the success of their films A Hard Day's Night and Help!, and still under the influence of the intoxicants of the era, the Beatles set out to make their own fancifully psychedelic project. What they got out of it was, essentially, a knock-off album with a few good songs and a lot of filler, which is more than can be said for this alternately self-indulgent and mildly amusing British version of Ken Kesey's magic bus tour. Using some of their favorite actors (including Victor Spinetti, who was in their first two movies), the Beatles make an alternative British travelogue, stopping occasionally to sing songs like "I Am the Walrus" and "The Fool on the Hill." Strictly for completists. --Marshall Fine« less
5 stars for entertainment value, minus 2 for DVD quality
R. Riis | NY | 01/16/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Most of you probably know the general details of the plot and the circumstances of this made-for-TV movie by the Beatles, so I'll stick to a review of the DVD itself. The b/w newsreels (Beatles opening their Apple Boutique, Beatles at Rishikesh) are interesting, some promos for the other Beatles-related films are OK, but I was not prepared for the really dismal quality of the film itself. A colorful (psychedelic, at that) film is now flat and washed out, the print itself speckled and grainy. This film cries out for restoration! An enjoyable film for Beatles fans (great proto-music videos), but if you have the VHS version, you don't need to spring for the DVD until a new edition (hopefully) gets released."
Shamefully underrated and quite enjoyable
IA | San Francisco, California United States | 05/23/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw this film I simply couldn't understand why so many people ganged up to trash it. I've seen it two more times since then with friends and my opinion has only strengthened.To me this is a far more interesting film than overrated boomer nostalgia like a "Hard Day's Night" because it gives a better look into their personalities--this is their film, and the truest test of just how much you're on the Beatles' wavelength, which means a liking for Goon-show type humor and pop surrealism. Therefore people who expect every movie to have a "point" or nice understandable plot should go back to kino-kindergarden and skip the film. (The sort of people who beat words like "self-indulgent" and "weird" into the ground to describe what isn't instantly understandable) MMT is basically a set of music videos loosely held together by the various goings-on during a Ken Kesey-esque coach trip. And at 55 minutes it's too short to be boring anyway. The entire point is to sit back and not bother--to quote Bob Dylan--shoveling each dream into the ditch of what each one means.The film of course has large flaws. There are quite a few comic situations, but the Beatles don't really develop them.(John and George are more out of it than Ringo and Paul too.) Some of the lightly sketched sequences do drag a bit as a result.But the movie's strength lies in its resolute silliness--like an overlush, parodic seaside "love affair", John dressed up as an Italian waiter endlessly shoveling mud-like spaghetti for a obese woman, or the Beatles capering around in wizard's outfits like kids who've eaten too much sugar. That silliness shades into genuine pop surrealism with the primitive, excellent videos for "I Am the Walrus" and "Blue Jay Way," featuring the most captivating use of superimposition, odd props in even odder locations, children, extreme lighting, and fleet-footed but purposeful intercutting.(McCartney made for an occasionally clumsy but effective director) They live up to the mood of the songs--they seem genuinely dream-like and make a good match with the Beatles' captivating videos for "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane." Those videos, especially the former, freaked parents out in their day, and an extended music video like "Magical Mystery Tour" still manages to irritate people to this day. (Especially all those poor souls who begin by saying "I'm a huge Beatles fan but...")"
Truly Creative Rock Videos
paperbackriter | USA | 11/14/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As both Paul McCartney and George Harrison have stated, it was the Beatles who invented rock videos. The Fab Four created promo films for Ticket to Ride, Paperback Writer, Rain, Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane prior to the release of "Magical Mystery Tour" in 1967. It is the video performances of Blue Jay Way, I Am the Walrus, Your Mother Should Know, etc. which are, without a doubt, the highlight of "Mystery Tour". Admittedly, the movie is amateurish; lacking in plot and void of any sensibility. Taken as a film per se, "Magical Mystery Tour" would rate 1-star. However, taken as a compilation of videos, the film greatly succeeds. (I simply skip the nonsensical parts and head straight for the musical performances.) The music is, of course, absolutely impeccable and the videos are so much more engaging than current MTV fare. In fact, the clip for I Am the Walrus-- with its dancing "eggmen"-- may just be the coolest, most off-beat song promo ever filmed. The spot for Fool on the Hill --with Paul gazing high atop the Pyrennes-- is absolutely beautiful and quite befitting of that elegant song. Also, you just gotta love that silly wizard garb the guys break out for their performance of the title song. On the downside, the DVD itself is subpar. The picture, in dire need of remastering, is inexcusably grainy. Quite frankly, the film looks like a cheap VHS transfer. So why 4-stars for a plotless movie wrapped in a lousy DVD presentation? One word: MUSIC! More specifically, great Beatle music. That is the saving grace of "Magical Mystery Tour"."
To Beatles fans:
firstname.lastname@example.org | 03/31/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, if you're not a true Beatles fan, this is not a film you should be looking for. But, if you are a fan of the Beatles, please note: the music on this video-tape (I don't know about the DVD) is a unique mix, and sounds very different (and much better) from the MMT cd. For instance, there is an additional cello overdub on this version of Blue Jay Way. Also, instead of the tinny "fake stereo" effect on the second half of Walrus, this version has it in full mono, a GREAT improvement! All of the other songs are also considerably different on these special video mixes. A true Beatle fan will want these special remixes in their music library, no matter what they think of the video itself.What do I think of the video itself? For me, it's a chance to see the actual Beatles in 1967, walking, talking, interacting, dancing. That is pretty rare, as they made few appearances that year. However, here is precious little merit to the actual film; the dialog(?) is poor, there is little humor, and John and George seem very bored. But, as has been said so many times, it's the only place to see Walrus, and the Flying and Your Mother Should Know sequences are quite good as stand alone videos. Fool on the Hill is innoculous; Blue Jay Way is tedious. That's as videos, though. Better to just close your eyes and enjoy the best mix of this music you're ever likely to hear."
Like Watching a Painter at Work
an honest reviewer | 11/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is definitely art in moving form. Mesmerizing. Capturing The Beatles during their very brilliant psychedelic period. This dvd is great for anyone who wasn't born, can't remember or wants to take a journey back in time. Though not a Beatles fanatic,I can't resist taking refreshing glance backward to a strange but wonderful place in time. 'I am The Walrus' played out by the band in beautiful,colorful clothes and egg costumes is spliced and put together in a psychedelic collage that's a masterpiece.This in itself is a reason to get this dvd. The whole film is spectacular. Highly recommended."