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Film / Magical Mystery Tour

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Paul desperately trying to deny that this movie was all his idea.

"When a man buys a ticket to a magical mystery tour, he knows what to expect."

The Beatles's third film, and definitely the weirdest.

The film starts out as Mr. Richard Starkey, who is constantly bickering with his aunt, purchases a ticket to the titular mystery tour. Once on the tour bus... stuff happens, allegedly at the whim of "four or five magicians," and in the end everyone goes to a strip club.

Basically, the Beatles and a bus full of other people drove around for two weeks, wrote the script on the way, filmed things on a whim and hoped something magical would happen. It didn't work. Legend has it that many of the incidents and complications that plagued the shoot were more interesting than the film itself.

It was envisioned for theatres, but instead aired on BBC 1 on December 26, 1967. This hurt the film because that particular channel wasn't airing in colour yet. (Even if it had appeared on BBC 2, which was airing in colour, very few viewers owned colour sets.) It was especially bad for the "Flying" sequence, which was simply filmed abstract colour-shapes... So the project became their first flop, signalling all the events that would eventually lead to the band's break-up in 1970. As time went by Magical Mystery Tour has been re-appreciated as a charming time document with surreal comedy that was ahead of its time. Its Cult Soundtrack has been Vindicated by History too, for having some of the band's greatest hits, including "The Fool on the Hill", "I Am The Walrus" and the Title Track. The soundtrack album has its own entry.

Magical Mystery Tropes:

  • Alice Allusion: The title of I Am The Walrus itself is an Alice Allusion to the Walrus and the Carpenter from Alice in Wonderland, making it an accidental Villain Song, because John Lennon wasn't aware that the walrus was the villain in the song.
  • Alliterative Name: Buster Bloodvessel, Jolly Jimmy Johnson and Wendy Winters.
  • Animal Motifs: The band members are dressed as a walrus and eggman during the performance of I Am The Walrus, in reference to the album cover of Magical Mystery Tour.
  • As Himself: Rather an odd example. Ringo Starr plays himself, but the other three are just sort of there. Then all four of them appear as magicians.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The little tent that everyone on the bus piles into, which contains an impromptu theatre that shows George Harrison performing "Blue Jay Way".
  • Brick Joke: Lennon sings he is the walrus in "I Am The Walrus". Little Nicola (a character from the movie) however claims, according to the booklet of the album, No, you're not. The answer was finally solved with "Glass Onion" on The White Album, where John sings: "And here's another clue for you all/ the walrus was Paul." In "God" from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band he again changed the identity, by saying: "I was the walrus. But now I'm John."
  • Broken Record: "Blue Jay Way" ends with variations of a certain phrase being repeated 18 times. The phrase? "Don't be long."
  • The Cameo: That's the The Bonzo Dog Band singing "Death Cab for Cutie"note  with stripper Jan Carson.
    • Not so well known today, but performance poet and songwriter Ivor Cutler as Buster Bloodvessel.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: "The Fool On The Hill" about a strange, reclusive man living on a hill, disliked by the others as being a fool, yet world wise.
  • Continuity Nod: The score has orchestral versions of "She Loves You" (during the Marathon scene) and "All My Loving" (during one of the Imagine Spots with Aunt Jessie and Buster).
  • Dance Party Ending: After the aforementioned striptease, everyone has a dance party.
  • Determinator: The film project was reportedly taken to get the Beatles' minds off of the loss of Brian Epstein and keep the group united. It would not be the last time a project was started to "keep the group united".
  • Dream Sequence: Several, including one that involves John Lennon serving a woman spaghetti with a shovel, based on an actual dream John Lennon had had.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Victor Spinetti, who played roles in the previous two Beatles films, plays a comical, proto-Pythonesque version in one scene.
  • Drunken Song: Ringo, with "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts." He gets everybody on the bus to join in.
  • Fanservice: Why else would everyone go to a strip club at the end?
  • Faux Symbolism: Deliberately invoked with "I Am The Walrus," written after John received a letter from a student who attended Lennon's old primary school about an English master there who was forcing his students to analyse the band's Word Salad Lyrics. Upon finishing the song, complete with his classic "first-thing-you-see" lyrics, Lennon turned to his friend and said "let the fuckers work that one out!". The completely random and nonsense line "semolina pilchard" is a reference to semolina pudding and pilchard sardine cans, according to John's childhood friend, Pete Shotton circa 1983. Another interpretation is that it is a Take That! to Moral Guardian Detective Norman Pilcher, who was more fanatical about arresting pop stars on drugs charges than about smaller things like actually following the rule of law, and had arrested both John and George on separate occasions.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: Parodied at the end of the "Your Mother Should Know" scene, when John leans forward towards Paul.
  • Gainax Ending: Inverted: the ending (in which The Beatles and various others dance to "Your Mother Should Know") is perhaps the only normal part of the entire movie.
  • Grief Song: The fade-out of "I Am the Walrus" has lines from a radio broadcast of William Shakespeare's King Lear, where Edgar murders a character named Oswald.
  • Instrumental: "Flying", which only has a la la la la la chorus.
  • Mysterious Middle Initial: Richard B. Starkey. In real life, Ringo doesn't even have a middle name!
  • Narrator: John Lennon narrates, for reasons best known to himself.
  • Never Accepted in His Hometown: The fool in "The Fool On The Hill" lives alone on a hill, while the other villagers dislike him and call him a fool.
  • No Ending: After the sequence for "Your Mother Should Know", the film just goes to credits with no proper ending.
  • Nostalgia Filter: "Your Mother Should Know" is nostalgic for a song "that was a hit/ before your mother was born", and the sequence featuring it is reminiscent of a scene from a 1930s musical.
  • Punny Name: Buster Bloodvessel.
  • Random Events Plot: This is a movie where things just...happen.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "Blue Jay Way" was written when George was waiting in his house 'Blue Jay Way' in Los Angeles for press journalist Derek Taylor.
  • Road Trip Plot: The film in a nutshell, althought there's a lot more "trip" than "plot".
  • Sampling: "I Am The Walrus" samples a BBC radio production of King Lear.
  • Scatting: "La la la la la la" in the otherwise wordless "Flying" and "Da da da da da da da da da" in "Your Mother Should Know".
  • Scenery Porn: The visuals accompanying "The Fool on the Hill" and "Flying".
  • Sensational Staircase Sequence: John, Paul, George and Ringo perform "Your Mother Should Know" while jauntily stepping in syncopated fashion down a staircase in matching white suits.
  • Shout-Out:
    • John singing "There's No Business Like Show Business."
    • The background music in the dream love sequence between Aunt Jessie and Buster Bloodvessel plays the melody to "All My Loving".
    • The title of "I Am The Walrus" is an Alice Allusion to the Walrus and the Carpenter from Alice in Wonderland, making it an accidental Villain Song, because Lennon wasn't aware that the walrus was the villain in the song. This also makes it a Continuity Nod to "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was also inspired by the novel. Carroll's image appears on the album cover of "Sgt. Peppers" too. "I Am The Walrus" tells us we should have seen "them kicking Edgar Allan Poe", who was also present on the album cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by the way. The line about "yellow matter custard" is a reference to a playground nursery rhyme that goes "Yellow matter custard, green slop pie, All mixed together with a dead dog's eye, Slap it on a butty, ten foot thick, Then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick". Near the end a radio rendition of William Shakespeare's King Lear can be heard, with the line of having a "serviceable villain," making the song even more about a villain than intended.
  • Special Guest: The band in the strip club is the The Bonzo Dog Band, whom Paul had worked with as a producer.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "I Am The Walrus" famously includes snippets from a BBC radio production of "King Lear".
  • Step Up to the Microphone: George Harrison sings lead on "Blue Jay Way", which he wrote.
  • Troll: John wrote "I am the Walrus", thrown together from abandoned song ideas and Lewis Carroll scenes, specifically to mess with people who would pore over his lyrics for hidden meanings.
  • World of Chaos: Everywhere the Beatles drive, some surreal mayhem is taking place. "I Am The Walrus" really cuts the cake.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "I Am The Walrus" was intentionally written to be this, as Lennon got fed up with crazed fans trying to find hidden and far-fetched clues in their music.

"And that was a Magical Mystery Tour. I told you! Goodbye."


I Am The Walrus

let the fuckers figure this one out

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / WordSaladLyrics

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