Magical Mystery Tour Blu-ray Review
The Beatles’ MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR TV special in 1967 is a shining example of what happens to people when they get to be too successful. We see this all the time today with athletes, movie stars and musicians, where they reach a point where they’re above good advice and their success means that no matter what kind of drivel they spew out, fans will eat it up. MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR is an awkward, embarrassingly bad special (I can’t even call it a movie) that doesn’t do the Beatles any favors.
But let’s separate the music and the special for a second. I consider myself a bit of a Beatles fanatic and for a while there, I was reading and watching anything that even remotely dealt with the Beatles. I always felt that the Magical Mystery Tour album was one of their most underrated albums, featuring great songs like “I Am The Walrus”, “Baby You’re A Rich Man”, “Penny Lane” and of course, “All You Need is Love” and one of my personal favorites “You’re Mother Should Know”. It’s a fantastic album with virtually every song feeling like a #1 single. But when people list their favorite albums, Magical Mystery Tour is rarely listed. The reason? This TV special.
The special follows a bus full of people that take a trip through the English countryside. But it’s not really about anything. It’s more of an excuse to promote five songs from the album, including “The Fool on the Hill,” “Blue Jay Way,” “Your Mother Should Know,” “I Am the Walrus” and “Magical Mystery Tour.” The bus stops at certain points and then we get a little music video featuring one of the songs. All the songs are great, but the highlight performance is “I Am the Walrus” since it’s the only time the band was recorded performing the song.
There’s no real narrative throughout the special, so don’t expect to be following any one character or get invested into a storyline. It really is just an excuse to show a collection of music videos. The film was largely Paul McCartney’s baby and he shows up prominently on the special features included on the Blu-ray. He and Ringo Starr seem to be showcased the most throughout the film and the word at the time was that John Lennon and George Harrison tried to avoid being on camera as much as possible. John Lennon even once called the film “The most expensive home movie ever made.” There’s actually a lot of fun trivia around the film, meaning that reading about the film can be more entertaining than actually watching it.
MAGICAL MYSTERY tour is only 60 minutes long, so it’s not excruciatingly painful to get through. If you put the Blu-ray in and fast forward (or select in the menu) to the musical numbers, it’s actually pretty fun. But if you try to sit through the odd editing and weird dialogue, you’re going to be miserable.
Video: MAGICAL MYSTERY tour is presented in its native fullscreen aspect ratio and given how old the special is, I can’t help but be impressed with how it looks. Most of the faults of the video quality can be accredited to how it was filmed, but overall, it looks decent.
Audio: This is one of the few ways to listen to The Beatles in 5.1 DTS-HD surround sound, so it’s hard to complain about the audio.
Director’s Commentary by Paul McCartney: This is a bit of a let down by Paul McCartney, he seems a little disinterested although he does come up with a couple of interesting stories.
The Making of Magical Mystery Tour (19:01): This isn’t a bad little featurette to watch and was more interesting than the film itself. If you were a fan then you need to check this feature out.
Ringo the Actor (2:23): This is Ringo talking about his mad acting skills.
Meet the Supporting Cast (10:56): This is full of mini bios of various cast members and where they went in their film career after this movie.
Nat’s Dream (2:00): This is a little bit directed by John Lennon and is set to “Shirley’s Wild Accordion”.
Your Mother Should Know (2:40): This is the song with some additional footage included.
Blue Jay Way (3:57)
The Fool on the Hill (3:04)
Hello Goodbye Promo (3:36)
I’m Going in a Field – Ivor Cutler (2:41)
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush – Traffic (2:40)