Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (2DVD)
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The two-part film includes never-seen performance footage and interviews with artists and musicians whose lives intertwined with Dylans during that time. For the first time on camera, Dylan talks openly and extensively about this critical period in his career.
It's virtually impossible to approach No Direction Home without a cluster of fixed ideas. Who doesn't have their own private Dylan? The true excellence of Martin Scorsese's achievement lies in how his documentary shakes us free of our comfortable assumptions. In the process, it plays out on several levels at once, each taking shape as an unfailingly fascinating narrative. There is, of course, the central story of an individual genius staking out his artistic identity. But along with this Bildungsroman come other threads and contexts: most notably, the role of popular culture in postwar America, art's self-reliance versus its social responsibilities, and fans' complicity with the publicity machine in sustaining myths. All of these threads reinforce each other, together weaving the film's intricate texture.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
NDH matches America's greatest filmmaker with its most influential musician. This is a straight doc, flashing back and forth between Dylan and the Hawks getting booed on U.K. stages in 1966 while chronologically telling the life story of Robert Zimmerman/Bob Dylan.
There are generous interview clips with Dylan himself who is relaxed, yet candid (for Dylan). However, Joan Baez lights up the screen with vintage clips of her 60s folk performances with and without Dylan. Pete Seeger (folk music scene), Suze Rotolo (political activism), Al Kooper (recording Like A Rolling Stone) and Bobby Neuwirth (1965 UK tour) are supporting players who help tell the story, all looking light-years different from the 60s.
Vintage film & video clips include those from the summer 1963 March on Washington (Dylan says King's speech still haunts him today), the Steve Allen Show, the Folk Songs show, Andy Warhol's screen test (an unearthed gem), 1965/66 press conferences, and best of all outtakes from EAT THE DOCUMENT. All video & film are presented in sharp quality. Sound is amazing and clear.
The film takes its time in telling Dylan's story until 1966. The highlight is the infamous 1965 Newport concert where Dylan went electric. One eyewitness reports that 30% of the crowd was booing. Others say they couldn't even hear Dylan, since the band was drowning him out.
Overall, Dylan comes off as a renegade, a prodigy, opportunist, visionary, traitor, genius, but always changing. Dylan himself says that people are constantly changing and that is the theme of the film.Read more ›
Johnston, the producer of Highway 61 Revisited, may only be reflecting on one historic set of sessions, but his comment may well apply to the whole of Dylan's early career. The Spirit hovers and breathes and kicks in and around Dylan.
Scorsese's documentary focuses on Dylan's career up until his motorcycle accident in the summer of 1966. It is fittingly divided into two parts: 1) Dylan - channeling Woody Guthrie and finding a voice both young and ancient, and 2) Dylan's iconoclastic repudiation of 'protest' or 'topical' songwriting. Dylan and a cadre of songwriting peers tell the story, but the songs stand out beyond the history.
This is a must-have for those who cherish these songs. It is a treasure of live performances and contextualized performances captivating in their own right. Best of all, it is a visual companion to Dylan's Chronicles.
The title of "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan" emphasizes that the singer-songwriter was a construct and attempts to chronicle the transformation from Robert Zimmerman to Bob Dylan. The key influence has always been considered to be Woody Guthrie, and Dylan's visit to Guthrie in the hospital is an iconic Sixties vision quest, but this documentary is able to work in many more names into the mix. The connections to the music at any time during the early stages of Dylan's career are only addressed tangentially, but that only underscores that this is not a music appreciation course on Bob Dylan, as much as that would be nice. This is an attempt to preserve the extant record on the first quarter century of Dylan's life, with an emphasize on the five years at the end of that period that represent the most creative and significant portion of his career, aided and abetted by talking heads the likes of Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, Liam Clancy, and Al Kooper, who provide memories and retrospective insights (Kooper's story on how he ended up playing the organ on "Like a Rolling Stone" is a testament to serendipity in the music business).Read more ›
Fantastic music and a must for anyone who is in their 40's-50's and grew up with this music.
Most recent customer reviews
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.
Hold on! Don't get your knickers in a knot! Read more
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