George Harrison said it doesn’t take much to film The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour in 1967. All the band needed was a couple of cameras and “a bunch of weirdos on a bus.”
George Harrison said the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” was based on typical pleasure trips of the time
If fans didn’t know the Beatles’ new sound and style, they understood when they saw the group’s third film. Magical Mystery Tour. It was completely different from the band’s previous two films, The night of a hard day and Help! They were no longer running from fans or a ritual tribe. They were on a psychedelic journey that didn’t make much sense.
The Fab Four join friends and family on a bus bound for the sea. That’s all that can be said about the plot of the film. George said they were based Magical Mystery Tour on typical pleasure trips of the time.
“It was basically a carriage ride that people used to take from Liverpool to see the lights of Blackpool,” George said in anthology (per Ultimate Classic Rock). “They got loads of cases of beer and an accordion player, and everyone got mad.”
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George said Magical Mystery Tour was cheap to do
In the mid-1960s, the Beatles stopped touring because Beatlemania was out of control. They had nowhere to go, which meant they cut TV appearances as well. However, the group knew they still needed to connect with their audience. The only solution was to make music videos.
They grabbed some cameras, went to a field, and shot videos for songs like “Rain” and “Paperback Writer.” It was easy and inexpensive. They didn’t think in terms of creativity. They just wanted to do something quickly.
During an interview with MuchMusic in 1988, George said, “We used to just get a cameraman with a 16mm lens and we’d just go out into a field and do it, you know? There wasn’t all those concepts and trying to spend $200,000 on three and a half minutes of crap.”
The Beatles had the same mentality during filming Magical Mystery Tour. MuchMusic said the Beatles certainly knew how to spend money when he saw the odd film, but George said: “It’s still pretty cheap. Just a couple of 16mm cameras and a bunch of lunatics on a bus.”
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The film has suffered, but Martin Scorsese thinks it’s still important
Magical Mystery Tour premiered and tanked on television, largely because of its subject matter and the fact that it premiered in black and white. However, the Beatles at least didn’t spend a small fortune on it. Although maybe if the band had spent a little more money it would have saved the film.
“It wasn’t like we could do a disclaimer beforehand and say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, what you’re about to see is a product of our imaginations’ — and believe me, they’re pretty animated at this point,” he said Paul in the 2012 feature about Magical Mystery Tour.
The film didn’t go down as one of the Beatles’ heydays. Even The Rutles had to poke fun at it with their ‘Tragical History Tour’ parody.
However, director Martin Scorsese takes a thoughtful and critical look at the film and says it is important. “It certainly still holds up for me,” Scorsese said (per Ultimate Classic Rock). “The freedom of the image was very important.”
George could have said Magical Mystery Tour was cheap but worth a lot to some.
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