Sunday, July 22, 2018

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan

Directed by Martin Scorsese, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan is a documentary film about the life and career of Bob Dylan from his early life and impact on popular culture until the 1966 motorcycle accident that would nearly kill him and put him into a temporary retirement. The film would feature footage of Dylan in those times including archival interviews with Dylan talking about those events as well as a look into the folk music scene of the times. The result is an engrossing and evocative film from Martin Scorsese.

In the 1960s during a period of social change, folk music was considered the soundtrack to express these changes during the Civil Rights movement as well as with what was happening politically in those times. The biggest voice of that music scene was Bob Dylan whose songs would be covered by many in the world of folk, pop, and rock music as he was seen as the voice of a generation whether he liked it or not. The film is about Dylan’s time in the spotlight until a motorcycle accident in July of 1966 put him into seclusion where he rarely made public appearances for eight years until he toured again in 1974 with the Band. Dylan is interviewed from a 2000 conversation with his manager Jeff Rosen about these events as Rosen allowed the interview to be used in the film as many of the interviews with individuals involved such as Allen Ginsberg, Peter Yarrow, Pete Seeger, Mavis Staples, Al Kooper, Joan Baez, Bob Neuwirth, filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, and Dylan’s former girlfriend from the early 1960s in Suze Rotolo are dated as far back as the mid-1990s.

Using a lot of archival footage including material and outtakes from documentary films such as D.A. Pennebaker’s Dont Look Back and Murray Lerner’s Festival plus the rarely-seen documentary about Dylan’s 1966 tour in the film Eat the Document. Martin Scorsese would create a narrative that play into Dylan’s early life and his ascent into stardom that is inter-cut with footage from the 1966 tour in Europe where he is getting a polarized reaction for playing rock n’ roll. Scorsese play into not just Dylan’s early life living in a small town of Hibbing, Minnesota where it was an ordinary town yet he would discover different kinds of music late at night from the early ideas of rock n’ roll, blues, folk, and country music. Dylan also talked about the folk music scene of the early 1960s where it wasn’t about people getting famous but rather create a community of art and music without any kind of complications and create some kind of commentary about what is happening in America.

Through the interviews with Baez, Staples, Neuwirth, and several others that was shot by several cinematographers led by Mustapha Barat with contributions from Maryse Alberti and Ellen Kuras, Scorsese manages to get an idea of how Dylan coped with his fame as Scorsese would do an audio re-enactment of the 1963 Emergency Civil Liberties Committee ceremony where Dylan received the Tom Paine award as it was a moment that had Dylan display his discomfort of being a voice for any kind of movement. With the help of sound editor Philip Stockton, Scorsese would use that moment to play into a moment that would mark a change in Dylan from being this folk singer into wanting to be something else. Even as Baez and Rotolo discuss how their relationship with Dylan would change and fall apart in that time of his growing fame as it would force him to do other things while Baez would continue to create protest music as a way to speak about what is going on.

With the help of editor David Tedeschi, Scorsese would compile various concert footage including rare footage from Dylan’s 1966 tour that includes the infamous show at the Manchester Free Trade Hall where a fan screamed “Judas” at him for betraying the folk movement. It all play into Dylan’s refusal to be labeled for other people while he would admit that he was arrogant into the way he treated himself as a major figure. Even as the tour would serve as the peak of his public persona as this unlikely spokesman of a generation who was becoming increasingly difficult and didn’t care about what his audience thought.

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan is a sensational film from Martin Scorsese. It’s a sprawling documentary film in a near-4 hour running time that chronicles Dylan at his most famous as well as his most controversial with the man getting the chance to talk about that period. Even as it showcases rare footage and insight into the period of the times including Dylan’s early background. In the end, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan is a spectacular film from Martin Scorsese.

Related: Dont Look Back - I'm Not There - Trouble No More

Martin Scorsese Films: (Who’s That Knocking on My Door?) – (Street Scenes) – Boxcar Bertha – (Mean Streets) – ItalianamericanAlice Doesn't Live Here Anymore - Taxi Driver - New York, New YorkAmerican Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince - (The Last Waltz) – Raging Bull - The King of Comedy - After Hours - The Color of Money - The Last Temptation of Christ - New York Stories-Life Lessons - GoodfellasCape Fear (1991 film) - The Age of Innocence - (A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies) – (Casino) – (Kundun) – (My Voyage to Italy) – Bringing Out the Dead - (The Blues-Feel Like Going Home) – Gangs of New York - (The Aviator) – The Departed - Shine a Light - Shutter Island - (A Letter to Elia) – (Public Speaking) - George Harrison: Living in the Material World - Hugo - The Wolf of Wall Street - (The Fifty Year Argument) – The Silence - (The Irishman (2018 film)) - Killers of the Flower Moon - (An Afternoon with SCTV)

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