Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever

The music video (or "promotional film" as they were called back then) for Strawberry Fields Forever was filmed in Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent on 30 and 31 January 1967. Directed by Peter Goldman.
Peter Goldman - A Swedish pop film maker who worked for Swedish Television during the 60's and 70's tells his story behind the making of the Strawberry Fields Forever film.

"Everything went so fast. It wasn't until I sat on the plane for London I realised what I was up to. I felt the nervousity and the excitement crawling under the skin. How in the world should I be able to make something enough funny-bizzare-cleaver-crazy-sofisticated to satisfy The Beatles."

"John, Paul, George and Ringo liked good food and they did lose their temper if they didn't get their special food even during the shootings. So, their big metal coloured catering bus followed them wherever they went. Containing a staff of cooks made the tables with their favourite food, baked in a gratin-disk with parsley over it or the special chicken that they liked of something else that they ordered."
"-The food was served in a special order. First John, Paul, George and Ringo were served, then me, the head director, and after me my assistant and then the other assistants and so on."

"- Ringo had a dog named 'Tiger' that he was very proud of. Tiger wasn't the most terrifying dog in his class, not at all. It was the smallest and the most well cared for little white poodle I've ever seen. Paul had a dog that looked like a small pony; named Martha."

"The film was filmed on an estate in Kent. The surroundings were incredibly English with a great old castle and hundreds of semi-tame deers that were strolling around in an enormous park. We built a giant instrument that actually was an old torn-apart piano with strings up in the air. The wind played on the strings that kept falling all the time and made a mess."

"In John's specially equipped Rolls Royce the fab four had a real big laugh. Through a microphone and a loudspeaker they tried to cheer me up with comments and advises that made an echo out over the neighbourhood."
This gave an unexpected result. A lot of truant boys from an boarding school nearby came to see what it was all about. Boys in all ages dressed in uniforms and little caps hunting for autographs and souvenirs. A piece of a cigarette or an autograph by Peter Goldman was good enough. Peter could just establish the fact that the Beatles fever seemed to rise every year.
The Beatles talked to the arriving fans and John took his film camera and filmed the crowd. The truant boys from the boarding school weren't as keen as The Beatles to listen to their director.
- Jump! said John. I want everybody to jump!
Nobody jumped so John didn't get the scene he wanted on film. Instead, he had to be content with filming trees, the piano strings and other things that he felt that he should immortalise.
All four Beatles had excellent film equipment at home, and Ringo proudly showed his 16 mm equipment to Peter. The Beatles were very patient actors in front of the camera. They were interested and competent in all things technical. There were cold winds blowing at the estate, but The Beatles kept the whole team in a good mood. In spite of frozen noses they were fooling around and always had encouraging things to say.
In Strawberry Fields Forever there are seven changes of clothes. Four red coats was all that they had to buy specially for the film, the rest came from John, Paul, George and Ringo's own wardrobes. Peculiar combinations occurred. Ringo loved an old uniform coat. John changed between a knee long beige jersey, a scarf and a preacher's coat that he originally had hired for masquerade, but hadn't been able to divorce.

Above is the original edit of the promotional film for Strawberry Fields Forever. The one used in the Anthology DVD was further embellished by inserting outtake footage and adding colour video effects, but this is how it looked originally. The sound is taken from the 2009 stereo CD remaster of the song, from The Beatles' album "Magical Mystery Tour".
The video for "Strawberry Fields Forever", along with it's companion video "Penny Lane" (the other side of the 45rpm single release), was selected by New York's MoMA as two of the most influential music videos in the late 1960s. Both films were originally broadcast on February 16th on BBC's Top Of The Pops in the UK and later in the US on February 25th 1967, on the variety show The Hollywood Palace.
Here's the story of one of the school boys who secured a souvenir from the film shooting in Knole Park.

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