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Bob Dylan - Don't Look Back (1967)

1 rating: 5.0
Music Video & Concerts movie directed by D.A. Pennebaker

Both a classic documentary and a vital pop-cultural artifact, D.A. Pennebaker's portrait of Bob Dylan captures the seminal singer-songwriter on the cusp of his transformation from folk prophet to rock trendsetter. Shot during Dylan's 1965 British … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: D.A. Pennebaker
Genre: Music, Musical
1 review about Bob Dylan - Don't Look Back (1967)

Archival Treasure

  • Jul 15, 2007
Bob Dylan often was in a shroud of mystery. That's why J. Robert Van Dyke's documentary, `Don't Look Back' is so valuable. Caught in the throes of his tour in England, the 1967 copyright only gives the release date of this fun and illuminating look at the great singer/songwriter/musician. Taking from his newly released album, `Bringing It All Back Home,' the footage undoubtedly came from 1965 when he controversially went electric and invented the folk-rock hybrid. The feel of the black and white film sometimes seems shaky and impromptu, and scenes transition at times like a home movie. Yet, the editing is the real gig, capturing some essential moments in the life of Dylan and his entourage at a consequential time in his career.

The highlights are many. There are times for him to "meet the press". What is so revealing is how he turns the tables on one British reporter and a 'Time' correspondent later. When a British reporter asks Bob, "What is your attitude about life?" He's put off by the ubiquitous question; so when he asks the reporter the same question, the reporter says he can't answer the question in two minutes. Dylan responds, "How do you expect me to?" There are other great moments. Joan Baez can be the real ham sometimes, but when she sings in their room her voice resonates beautifully. Similarly, we get a brief, intimate performance by Donovan who visits Dylan. There are also some fine behind-the-scenes action. It becomes heated when the reporters come to interview Dylan, and one man tells his manager, Alan Grossman, to get out. Another scene shows him making interesting negotiations for a couple of Dylan's performing nights in London. Of course, the whole affair is worth the price of admission to be able to see and hear the "Bard of Hibbing" onstage doing numbers like "It's All Right Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll". The whole film starts with a bare-bones video of "Subterreanean Homesick Blues," with Dylan changing display cards with his lyrics before the Beatles put theirs on `Sgt. Pepper'.

Although not as polished as Scorsese's film, 'No Direction Home,' it is essential. The real comparison is not with Scorsese's work, but a comparison of this film with what it would be like to have gone without it. (I discovered this movie from `Rolling Stone,' as a list-topper from their "Best Films of Rock `N Roll".)

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