Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Magical Mystery Tour Revisited

John, Paul, George and Ringo Revisit the Beatles' Psychedelic Trip
Shari Anne Brill, TVFirstLook

The year 1967 was the best of times and the worst of times for The Beatles.

The high was the critically acclaimed album, "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band," and several hit singles. The lows: Beatles' manager Brian Epstein's death and the group's critically panned film, "Magical Mystery Tour," which aired on BBC on Boxing Day.

That’s where the fun and fast-paced documentary Magical Mystery Tour Revisited begins (PBS - Friday, 9pm; Magical Mystery Tour, 10pm). From director Francis Hanly and producer Jonathan Clyde, Revisited uses interviews with surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, plus footage of John Lennon and George Harrison to tell the story of Magical - how it was conceived and its mass rejection by critics and viewers alike.

Magical Mystery Tour was largely the brainchild of Paul McCartney. Its thin premise was to have ordinary people travel with The Beatles on a bus trip that was devoid of a destination. The film was so heavily improvised, that it seemed as if The Beatles were making it up as they went along. 

Although the movie was shown just one time on TV in the UK and hardly saw the light of day in the United States, it is now looked upon at least by some people to be a highly influential work. In fact, filmmaker Martin Scorsese says it was an inspiration for his movies.  

In contrast, the music from that film was far more favorably received by critics and audiences. "Magical Mystery Tour" was nominated for a Grammy Award for best album in 1968 and was No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts.

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