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Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back [Blu-ray] 
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A documentary filmed in Britain in 1965, following 'The Pasha of Protest' (Bob Dylan) on tour. Dylan, dressed in leathers and with slicked-back hair, stands out from the denim-clad groupies around him in this document of the times.
Both a classic documentary and a vital pop-cultural artefact, DA Pennebaker's portrait of Bob Dylan in Don't Look Back captures the seminal singer-songwriter on the cusp of his transformation from folk prophet to rock trendsetter. Shot during Dylan's 1965 British concert tour, Don't Look Back employs an edgy vérité style that was, and is, a snug fit with the artist's own consciously rough-hewn persona. Its handheld black-and-white images and often-gritty London backdrops suggest cinematic extensions of the archetypal monochrome portraits that graced Dylan's career-making, early-60s album jackets.
Pennebaker's access to the famously private troubadour lets us witness Dylan's shifting moods as he performs, relaxes with his entourage (including then lover Joan Baez, road manager Bob Neuwirth and poker-faced manager Albert Grossman) and jousts with other musicians (notably Animals alumnus Alan Price and Scottish folksinger Donovan), fans and press. It's a measure of the filmmaker's acuity that the conversations are often as gripping as Dylan's solo performances. Grossman's machinations with British promoters, Baez's hip serenity, a grizzled British journalist's surrender to the fact of Dylan's artistry and the artist's own taunting dismissal of a clueless sycophant are all absorbing. With the exception of the studio recording of "Subterranean Homesick Blues", the live performances are constrained by crude audio gear. Their urgency, however, is timeless, as is Pennebaker's film, a legitimate cornerstone for any serious rock video collection. --Sam Sutherland --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The dramatic progress he made from Coffee House Folkie to Electric Rock Protagonist is unparalleled in Musical History, no one before or since has moved so far so fast. The most notable example of this trend is evidenced in the footage shot by D.A. Pennebaker shown here, much of which is actually one of the first examples of hand held camera work, that later became the vogue. Donovan performs in a hotel room to Dylan and his entourage, including Alan Price of the Animals, Joan Baez and Bob Neuwirth. Donovan`s song is simple, a pure rendition of "To catch the wind" a good folk song. Dylan responds with "It`s all over now, Baby Blue." Literally light years ahead lyrically, but as if to make a point, is performed in the same style of delivery as Donovan`s song. It is an embarrasing moment for the Bard`s desciple but just goes to show the gulf that exsisted between Dylan and his contempories.
The young Punk side of his character comes to light in the equally embarrassing interviews with The Science Student and The Time Magazine Journalist. Dylan is actually not as obnoxious as he appears, since he tries to explain to both parties, why he is berating them. He might as well be from Mars judging by their reaction.
This is the solo acoustic Dylan on tour in the U.K.Read more ›
But... I think it's amazing. It is shot in black and white, with the young Bob Dylan looking unbelievably 'cool' throughout as he travels to and from various concerts, chats with fans or sits around in his hotel room with his large entourage of hangers-on (including Joan Baez who looks understandably embarrassed and out of place).
Highlights include his verbal attack on a hapless Time magazine reporter who can't get a word in edgeways and his interrogation of a pompous student who tries to get inside his head; in both cases Dylan is unbelievably arrogant and sure of himself as he baffles his would-be interviewers with rather bizarre arguments but I have to admit I found it rather satisfying to see someone fighting back against smug media know-it-alls. Other fascinating scenes include Dylan's meeting with the officious 'High Sheriff's Lady', to whom he is polite and gracious though obviously bemused, and a sequence where we see his manager, Albert Grossman, wheeling and dealing, looking like an extra from a Humphrey Bogart film or a distant relative of Jabba the Hut.
To the outsider this will look like a badly-shot, black & white, home movie, However, to me Dylan's presence and power seem to shine through every scene, he is a magnetic and fascinating character in himself, even if he hadn't also written some of the best songs of the 20th century.
The second disc (65 Revisited) is fine though..
Is this the same for anybody else?!
The film starts with the iconic Subterranean Homesick Blues sequence which has since been labelled the first ever music video, it's a great introduction and establishes Dylan as a playful wordsmith, his playfulness continues during the film as he seems to entertain himself during interviews with the press. His whimsical responses in press conferences seem to bemuse, amuse, and frustrate the press who seem desperate to sum up Dylan and his 'message' in one simple phrase but won't give them the sound-bites they are so desperate to jot down. Dylan comes across as an artist at the top of his game but the documentary doesn't exist as sycophantic hero-worship, if anything he is sometimes a bit detached and his chemistry with those around him is often a bit cold apart from the odd moment of great humour. Dylan's relationship with Joan Baez was on the wane and that's apparent here, though they sing together and spend time in close company there's none of the cheeky smiles or warmth which you see in archive footage from before this time.
Negotiations over the rates for TV appearances, a tired Bob Dylan taking his glasses off to rub his eyes as he travels by train, and interviewers asking the same questions demonstrate how a major tour is often not just about the music, and the moments where Dylan is on stage are pure magic - it's him and the music.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reminded me of early Dylan when I was in my twenties. Great to see him naturally going between concerts. Also Baez and Donovan and Price. I felt I was really there. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Peter Munn
a wonderful documentary - those around him are so very ordinary. No wonder he gets frustrated by them!Published 7 months ago by Piers Nye
the wrost blu ray film i ever bougth, a great disapointment, do i need to say any more.Published 8 months ago by thomas
I saw Mr. Dylan on this Tour,this DVD brings back many happy memories.Published 10 months ago by Peter Jones