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New Beatles Magical Mystery Tour DVD offers behind the scenes filmmaking stories

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“A zany representation of vivid minds at the time” — that’s how Paul McCartney summarizes The Beatles film, Magical Mystery Tour, or rather justifies it in the new DVD release out this month. Regarded as a disappointment after the success of A Hard Day’s Night in 1964 and Help! in 1965, the Magical Mystery Tour film represented the first time The Beatles took control of their own movie, serving as directors and producers of the 1967 film.

The new 2012 release on DVD and Blu-Ray offers some interesting facts and trivia about the film with bonus features including a 19-minute “Making of” mini documentary and a nostalgic Director’s Commentary by Paul McCartney, the main impetus behind the film. Conceptually, as Paul McCartney explains, it was a natural step for The Beatles to take control of their own film just like they had taken “control over what [they] were doing in the recording studio.”

However, it is inevitable that a film with no script, contributing to a “more dreamlike” ambiance, would likely have challenges. Ringo Starr explains that as the designated “acting Beatle”, he was told to ad lib with British actress Jessie Robins, who played Aunt Jessie, and make up dialogue between the two. Two Beatles Fan Club secretaries who were asked to be extras in the film described the filmmaking process as slightly chaotic citing the example that they had to wear the same clothes for several days and had last-minute sleeping arrangements.

The Beatles also had challenges in the editing room. Rare footage of John, Paul, George and Ringo is included on the DVD showing them in the editing suite with Editor Roy Benson. The Beatles thought the film could be edited in a week, but the reality was that it would take up to three months to complete.

The “Meet The Supporting Cast” segment in the Special Features section offers interesting background information on the lead actors that the Beatles hired for the film including Victor Spinetti, Ivor Cutler, Jessie Robins and Nat Jackley. However, the re-edits of “Your Mother Should Know”, “Blue Jay Way” and “The Fool on the Hill” seemed more like blooper reels. The previously unseen footage doesn’t really add much to the music videos, leaving the original footage much more desirable to watch.

In the end, McCartney stands by the significance of the film claiming that Steven Spielberg recalled being shown Magical Mystery Tour in film school as an example of a “different approach to filmmaking.” Fans can agree that the highlights of the film are the musical performances of “The Fool on The Hill”, “Blue Jay Way”, “Your Mother Should Know” and “I Am The Walrus.” Regardless of your opinion of the film, the new DVD release provides behind the scenes stories that provide insight into The Beatles’ creative process.

Paul McCartney sums up Magical Mystery Tour: “It finally found its place…we had a good time making it anyway.”

—Trina Yannicos

Note: A Magical Mystery Tour Deluxe Box Set is also available which comes with the DVD, Blu-Ray, Double-Vinyl EP and a 60-page booklet in a 10″ square collector’s box.

Win a copy of the new DVD in our Fall 2012 contest!

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