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DVD: Magical Mystery Tour | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Magical Mystery Tour

DVD: Magical Mystery Tour

The Beatles' most self-indulgent moment: whimsical gibberish or joyous romp?

The high silliness of the MMT sleeve tells you all you need to know

A confession: though very fond of the Beatles, I'd never seen their self-directed Magical Mystery Tour before this DVD release. Not that I have anything against psychedelic follies, but I felt like I'd had my fill of this sort of thing a long time ago and had never bothered seeking it out. Consider me chastened; it's a joyous film – yes, it's the result of a bunch of rich young men fooling about with drugs and looks like it, but there's so much warmth, so much colour, so much affection for the textures and quirks of a lost Britain shot through it that it's hard not to love.

Two things make it so great. First, though it's a free-form episodic caper, trying very hard to ape Fellini in creating art cinema, and though at the time it was seen as alien and degenerate, its roots are deep in British soil: Carry On, The Goon Show, music hall, Lewis Carroll, Tristram Shandy. The British don't need LSD to talk rampant gibberish or enjoy a shaggy dog story, and the guest stars – Victor Spinetti, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Ivor Cutler – are as much in the old tradition of eccentrics as they are counter culture. The rest of the passengers on the titular bus trip, too, are not hippies and beatniks, but ribald aunties, dirty old men, camp seaside entertainers... and the whole romp is a celebration of this rowdy, bawdy crew.

Secondly, the film is paced and structured like music, with all the natural skill that the Fabs put into any of their albums. Its silliness should drag but it just works, even when class clown Ringo is cavorting about in wizards' robes dropping things, even when a dwarf with a lion's head starts jigging. Add a lavish set of DVD extras – an engaging McCartney commentary, mini-documentaries, extra music promos – and this release offers literally hours of saucy, lysergic, nonsensical fun.

Watch the DVD release trailer


Its roots are deep in British soil: Carry On, The Goon Show, music hall, Lewis Carroll, Tristram Shandy

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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