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Scorsese's 200-plus-minute focus on Dylan's earliest years allows for a portrayal of unprecedented depth, with multiple angles: a rich composite photo is the result. The main narrative has an epic quality: it moves from Dylan growing up in cold-war Minnesota through Greenwich Village coffeehouses and the Newport Folk Festival, climaxing in the controversial 1966 U.K. tour that crowned a period of unbridled and explosive creativity. In his transition from Robert Allen Zimmerman to Bob Dylan, we observe him concocting his impossible-to-describe, unique combination of the topical with the archaic, like an ancient oracle. Scorsese was able to access previously unseen footage from the Dylan archives, including performances, press conferences, and recording sessions. He also uses interviews with Dylan's friends, ex-friends, and fellow artists, and, intriguingly, with the notoriously reclusive Dylan himself (who looks back to provide glosses on the early years), fusing what could have turned into a tiresome series of digressions and tangents into a powerful whole as enlightening, eccentric, contradictory, and ultimately irreducible as its subject.
Some of the deeply personal bits remain unrevealed, but Dylan's preternatural self-assurance acquires a slightly self-deprecating, even comic edge via some of his reflective comments. Alongside the arrogance, we see touching moments of the young artist's reverence for Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash. Joan Baez, in a poignant confessional mood, comes off well, and the late Allen Ginsberg is so seraphically charming he almost steals the show a few times. A crucial throughline is Dylan's hunger for recognition and ability to shape perceptions so that would be singled out as not just another dime-a-dozen folk singer. It's illuminating--particularly for those familiar with the artist's latter-day aloofness on stage--to see his reactions to audience booing in the wake of his "betrayal" in this fuller context. No Direction Home also makes clear--in a way that wasn't possible in D.A. Pennebaker's iconic Don't Look Back--how Dylan's ability to manipulate his persona always, at its core, protects the urge for expression: Dylan's ultimate mandate, as an artist, is never to be pinned down. As Scorsese masterfully shows, the myth around Dylan only grows bigger the more we discover about him. --Thomas May
DVD features: This two-disc set of Scorsese's full two-part documentary includes treats such as Dylan working on a song at his hotel during the UK tour as well as performing several songs as in concert or on TV.
More for the Dylanologist
No Direction Home: The Soundtrack
Chronicles: Volume One (paperback edition)
Bob Dylan Scrapbook
Don't Look Back
See Bob Dylan's complete catalogue at Amazon.ca
The Last Waltz
had the cd, and the DVD is even better! easy to order and came quite quickly. thanks for the possibility to buy items such as this!Published on July 7 2012 by annie51
The idea of over 3 hours of Dylan related material could set your brain on fire. Woo-hoo! Yes, finally a masterpiece on a master.
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