Revisiting the 1967 film, “Magical Mystery Tour,” is a look back at the Beatles third film, a dud at the time. It was released in black-and-white on Boxing Day on television in Britian, and immediately was subjected to derision by the media and most of the viewers. Later, it was released in the U.S. in color, but screened mostly in the university circuit.
“Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” (2012 UK), screening tonight, Oct. 16, at 7:00 pm at the Mission Theater, explores how these musicians, at the height of their popularity, could produce something that just plain bombed. Perhaps, as George Harrison commented, it was the natural ebb and flow of life. They’d been highly popular. Now it was time for negative criticism. Maybe it was just a vanity piece, some said, since they had the money and the time to do whatever they wanted to do. This film explores opinions of viewers at the time. It also includes interviews with the remaining Beatles along with Peter Fonda, Terry Gilliam, and others, including Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese remarks that “Magical Mystery Tour” should have been lauded for its free form, its lack of structure, “the freedom of the picture.” He continues by noting that the musical, dance-like editing was one of the techniques he appreciates, and was influential in his later film-making.
Paul McCartney was the genesis of the film. A fan of the avant-garde, its influence on him and the presentation of images and sounds is obvious. To me, it has a Warholian sensibility. One commentator suggests that the “mystery tour,” literally taking a trip to a place unknown with family members of all ages traveling together, is a quintessential British concept. I’ll await hearing from my friends in the UK if, in fact, there is truth to this idea.
Spontaneity was important, according to Starr, McCartney and others. Much was improvised, and there was no overall script or story-boarding, just a series of ideas. “Mystery” seems to be a key. Yes, there are many sequences that are self-contained scenes. Parts are pure psychedelia, tricks with the lenses, filters, and lighting. Others are little peculiar stories. But, are they put together in some overarching narrative, to develop a certain theme, or was the creation simply like a series-of-shots randomly ordered?
The film is eccentric. It’s fun to look at this glimpse at the past, to get some sense of how it was created, and to be reminded of the music and those times. The segment that includes “I Am The Walrus” is pure delight. For those that have not seen the original film, “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” might inspire one to see it. All these decades later, it’s a fun look at a time long gone.
To repeat, “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” screens tonight at 7:00 pm at the Mission Theater at 1624 NW Glisan. The trailer here is from the original release in color, not “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited.” It is followed at 8:30 pm by "Made in Portland: Selections from the Portland Music Video Festival," screenings of local music and films (more details below).
Ticket prices range from $6 to $9 (with exceptions for the Hitchcock films, which are from $10 to $15) and can be purchased at the theaters a half hour prior to screening times or online at the website for the Northwest Film Center.
This film is part of the Northwest Film Center’s Reel Music Festival 31 that celebrates music and film. So much music is included, from rock and roll to folk, blues to jazz, soul to funk, and let's not forget punk. Included and part of Reel Music is "The Hitchcock 9," restorations of all of Alfred Hitchcock's surviving early silent films, accompanied by live performances of local musicians. Most films screen at the Whitsell Auditorium in the Portland Art Museum with additional screenings at the Mission Theater.
NOTE (from my last review of October 11, 2013)
Also on tonight at 8:00 pm at the Whitsell Auditorium, is Hitchcock's "The Farmer's Wife" (UK, 1928), the story of a widowed farmer who is trying to find a new wife with the help of his housekeeper. It has comical elements, but is shot as a thriller. The musical accompaniment is by Reed Wallsmith with Battle Hymns and Gardens. Like the other "Hitchcock 9," costs are $15 for general admission or $10 for Silver Screen Club members. The Whitsell Auditorium is located at 1219 SW Park Avenue (Portland Art Museum).
In addition, Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 8:30 pm, is a special night for Portlanders. "Made in Portland: Selections from the Portland Music Video Festival" features the collaborations between the musicians and filmmakers of Portland and other parts of the country. PMVF director Dustin Morrow put together this 80-minute program that highlights videos from this year's festival. It includes videos by Portland filmmakers Stefan Nadelman, Alicia J. Rose, and Daniel Fickle. There is music by the Portland bands Mean Jeans, Sallie Ford, Lost Lander, and the Portland Cello Project. And more! This special program is screening at the Mission Theater at 1624 NW Glisan.
Sources: Northwest Film Center website