In 1965, Bob Dylan was the man. By 1967, when Don’t Look Back was released, he had become a god. Those two years were a lifetime in the trajectory of pop and by the time it came out, interest in him had peaked, compounded by the fact that he had virtually disappeared from public life. The black-and-white acoustic Dylan depicted here was a cultural daguerreotype by the time audiences could see the film.
The original film, providing as it does such a seemingly intimate extended look at Dylan in the eye of the storm of celebrity, is a unique artifact. Unlike The Beatles films which were either stylized fictions (Hard Day’s Night) or a post-mortem (Let It Be), Pennebaker has inserted himself into the narrative of fame with a seemingly willing participant. The original film is notorious for showing Bob Dylan giddy with his own power, at once bemused and charmingly mischievous, but also less appealingly, a sort of self-satisfied jerk (most famously at the expense of poor Donovan). The reprise version, made with unused footage isn’t revelatory, but Dylanites will be no less riveted.
Commentary track from Pennebaker and Bob Neuwirth that veers from geeky 16mm filmmaker chatter to fascinating tidbits (Sam Beckett was a Dylan fan apparently). Also a mini flip book, new audio tracks and original script paperback.