Directed by: D. A. Pennebaker
Countries & Regions: United States
Length: 97 mins
Released: 5 May 2007
Cat No: 82876832149
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Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back
Cast: Bob Dylan
A documentary filmed in Britain in 1965, following ’The Pasha of Protest’ (Bob Dylan) on tour. Dylan, dressed in leathers and with... Read More
It's 1965. Bob Dylan, a somewhat reclusive singer of ardent protest songs is touring the UK in the company of up and coming documentary filmmaker DA Pennebaker, on-off girlfriend Joan Baez, manager Alan Grossman and a motley assemblage of buddies and buskers. Opening with the iconic Subterranean Homesick Blues 'video' (with Bob standing in an alleyway dropping cards at his feet, an expression on his face that is at once both bewildered Stan Laurel and beleaguered Marlon Brando, circa The Wild One), Don't Look Back is an astonishing glimpse into the person Dylan was at this pivotal time in his career (touring acoustically for the 'last' time, precipitating the switch to electric that found him labeled a 'Judas!' at a subsequent Manchester Free Trade Hall gig).
So we see a Dylan who is at once studious (bent over a typewriter, clacking away in accompaniment to Joan Baez, wailing in a hotel room), intense (sitting behind the prerequisite black sunglasses as Alan Price larks about on a piano singing George Formby songs), vain (pouting in a mirror), combative (arguing with some drunk guy about glass broken in the street), baffled (in the face of a barrage of appalling questions from bizarre upper-class journalists), preening, scowling, narcissistic. But this is not just Dylan's film. DA Pennebaker's method informs, supports and critiques the view of himself that Dylan wishes to present: so, through corridors and car seats and hotel rooms, we catch sight of Dylan, present but elusive, near and far, twisting and flickering in and out of sight like a candle flame.
Setting the template for over four decades of rockumentaries (everything from In Bed with Madonna to Wilco's I Am Trying To Break Your Heart and The Flaming Lips The Fearless Freaks owes a debt of gratitude to Don't Look Back), Don't Look Back is as dark as a vintage noir, both spontaneous and impromptu yet shot through with that rare sense of watching history unfold. The movie ends with Dylan crammed in the back of a car saying, I feel like I've been through some kind of thing.. You watch the movie and you'll feel the same way.