After several decades of shoddy representation on home video, The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour has finally gotten the respect it deserves and 21st Century Fab Four fans should be pleased with the results.  Not only has the original 53-minute feature been given a breathtaking visual and sonic overhaul, but Apple Records’ archivists have uncovered nearly an hour of extras to finally present the oft-maligned project in its proper context.  Parties impressed by the care and attention given to the Yellow Submarine (1968) DVD restoration will be thrilled to know that the same team was brought in to resurrect Magical Mystery Tour.  Paul Rutan, Jr. of Eque Inc. handled the ocular overhaul, while the soundtrack work was done by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios (where else?!).

The film’s tumultuous backstory is skimmed over during the 19-minute “Making of Magical Mystery Tour” bonus feature.  This informative mini-documentary was extracted from the infinitely more detailed hour long BBC2-TV special “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited.”  The rationale behind why producers chose not to include the full length BBC2 version is a mystery and a shame for those who enjoy going behind the music.  It recounts in greater depth the public fallout from the original Boxing Day (December 26) 1967 broadcast. In short, to say that the general public was nonplussed at what they saw would be an accurate assessment.

Likewise, to call Magical Mystery Tour controversial would be an understatement.  To this day, many Beatles’ enthusiasts consider it to be the foursome’s greatest failure.  Others (like yours truly) have long asserted that there was infinitely more of the Beatles’ personalities in this slice of psychedelic celluloid than any of their previous feature length cinematic forays.  This was partially due to the loss of the band’s manager – and erstwhile tether to reality – Brian Epstein.

His death in late August 1967 came directly on the heels of their greatest musical achievement Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) and only a few weeks prior to commencing this multi-media project.  Epstein’s absence likewise meant – for the first time – The Beatles were operating without the guidance of their friend, trusted advisor, and professional sounding board, the net of which resulted in the inmates running the asylum.  The effect it had on-screen was that the band (particularly primary director Paul McCartney) seemed to opt out of a strict story or narrative – especially when compared to that of A Hard Day’s Night (1964) or HELP! (1965). So the entire affair takes on an ethereal ‘anything goes’ atmosphere.

The brilliant new transfer of the main attraction is but one reason that enthusiasts should consider this a compulsory purchase.  Among the other supplementary offerings are several fairly self-descriptive bonuses.  “Ringo The Actor” (2:30) finds the drummer discussing his onscreen persona, while “Meet The Supporting Cast” is a primer on background players Nat Jackley, Jessie Robins, Ivor Cutler, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Victor Spinetti, George Claydon and Derek Royle.

Also included are newly edited music videos for the soundtrack songs “Your Mother Should Know,” “Blue Jay Way” and “The Fool On The Hill” – all incorporating a bevy of footage not used in Magical Mystery Tour.  The video for “Hello Goodbye” is not the famous clip of them lip-syncing in their Sgt. Pepper’s regalia, but rather a rarity that was prepped for onetime use on the British TV show Top of the Pops in 1967.  “Nat’s Dream” (2:50) is a suitable surreal scene directed by John Lennon that ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor.  Similarly, “I’m Going In A Field” (2:35) is an outtake featuring the unmatched talents of Ivor Cutler performing his own composition.

Saving arguably the best for last is the uber cool and formerly unavailable short film for the song “Here We Go Round The Mulberry” by legendary British psychedelic folkies, Traffic.  It seems that at some point the air was rife with talk of incorporating the talents of the Steve Winwood and Dave Mason co-led combo into Magical Mystery Tour.  The results, although ultimately shelved, can be seen and heard in this remarkable time capsule.  Hardcore collectors should also note the song’s completely unique audio mix.

Speaking of audio, Magical Mystery Tour‘s main feature is equipped with several distinct playback options, including DTS-HD Master Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, as well as 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo.  As if those weren’t enough, make sure to access the full-length Director’s Commentary track, as none other than Sir Macca himself will take listeners behind every scene and shot.

Release Date: October 09, 2012

–Lindsay Planer

By MARowe

One thought on “Review: Magical Mystery Tour – Beatles (1967/2012) – BD”
  1. I’ve always had a soft spot for this. I can understand the criticism, but hell, it’s got “I am the Walrus”, “The Fool on the Hill” and “Your Mother Should Know”. I liked the release date too, a nice touch.

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