Monday, May 08, 2006
Don't Look Back
Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back (D.A. Pennebaker, 1967) 
Considering I’m a Dylan freak, I’m almost amazed at myself that it took me this long to see this film. There is no doubt that D.A. Pennebaker is one of the great rock and roll documentary filmmakers with this film and Monterey Pop, bringing the cinema verite style into these films. The most interesting thing about this film to me is that there really isn’t that much music, and when it is present, it’s underwhelming. Dylan is clearly bored with being considered a topical folk singer; he seems just to be going through the motions a lot. The one moment of premonition comes when the camera captures Dylan window shopping, gazing at some electric guitars. The real focus of the film is what occurs off the stage. From this film, one could get the impression that Dylan is a childish, crass b.s. artist. I think it shows an artist attempting to deal with all the inane questions from the press and all the ridiculous baggage of being “the voice of a generation.” The times they have-a changed, and Bob Dylan has changed, and this film is a perfect documentation of the young artist at a particular time in his career. This also has one of the most mean-spirited moments I have ever seen in a film. There's a scene where Donovan is playing a twee love ballad for Dylan, Dylan complements Donovan, takes the guitar from him, and goes into "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." You can pratically see Donovan's soul getting crushed.