This epic is a mass amalgamation of three separate film-types that is, contrary to popular opinion, coherent and a unified whole. Bob Dylan is shown in concert, often masked, during the Rolling Thunder Revue. The film also features documentary footage, including Ruben "Hurricane" Carter's struggle against the forces that have imprisoned him. The third element is fictional "role-playing" footage with Bob Dylan in the guise of guitar-strumming Renaldo and his wife Sara as his companion Clara. Ronnie Hawkins takes on the role of Bob Dylan in these sequences. The film includes footage of a visit to the grave of Jack Kerouac, an Allen Ginsberg poetry reading and various friends and acquaintances, namely David Blue (playing pinball by a swimming pool), discussing experiences on the road.Written by
The opening credits end with a title card reading "A Film by BOB DYLAN" directed after he is credited as writer and director. The closing credits are divided in three sections, separated by wide time gaps, played over a different artist, soul singer Hal Frazier, performing "In The Morning", a song written by Barry Gibb. See more »
Originally released at 292 minutes (yes, that's almost five hours!). After dismal box office returns, Dylan shortened the film to 122 minutes removing almost all of the narrative storyline and leaving mostly concert footage. See more »
When it was theatrically released in most of Europa,BOb Dylan's work was boiled down to a 100 min version.I had to wait almost thirty years to see the complete movie (about 4 hours).Was it worth the wait?
The performances make me inclined to think that it was.Virtually all the songs Dylan performs are great live moments,and it would be wise to release (I think it has already been done)an only-songs DVD:Wearing a mask,or with his white make-up,Dylan's sings his songs as if "a life were depending on them " (and in the case of "Hurricane" it is true!):all the songs from the "desire" album are superior to the studio tracks:"Isis", "one more cup of coffee" and "romance in Durango" are almost spooky.The "blood on the tracks" material triumphs too: "tangled up is blue " will blow your mind and a strange "if you see her say hello" accompanied on piano which is heard when Dylan and Baez walk across the snow is so "new" I did not recognize the song at first."A hard rain 's gonna fall becomes a heavy metal stomp which makes the original 1963 version sound like a demo.There's also a countrified "I want you" (not as stunning,perhaps ,as the slow Budokan version),a moving "Sarah" (Lowndes)and a rare live version (heard as background)of "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands " .
We are also treated to the delights of the duets.I'm not the kind of people to tell you that Baez "is holding Bob back and makes him a robot on a leash":when they sing together ,I'm on cloud nine Johnny Ace's "never let me go" is brilliant and a very long version of "the water is wide" is heard during one of the numerous scenes of the Renaldo/Clara/Woman in White triangle.
Baez's "Diamonds and rust" is admirable but unfortunately it is cut ,which is a shame!Roger McGuinn gives a riveting instrumental version of his Byrds classic "Eight Miles High" with Baez's doing the frug to it and then leads the band into a blistering version of "Chesnut mare" another Byrds classic.
I would not go as far as to write that the non-musical sequences were as magical as the others.David Blue playing pinball and remembering the Village days is not really absorbing (although he mentions Phil Ochs -who could have been part of the Rolling Thunder Review);the love triangle deals with the three involved persons's private lives and I do not think it will interest the younger generation who almost knows nothing about their love affairs;outside of the handful of artists I've mentioned,the other musical sequences are average-to-poor.
One can save the scenes on the street concerning Rubin Carter and the one when Ginsberg and Dylan visit Jack Kerouac's grave .Even more disturbing is this other sequence in a graveyard where the two men speak of Jesus and the Way of the Cross.This and "people get ready " ("there's no room for the hopeless sinner") might explain Dylan's sudden (and short-lived) conversion to Christianity in the late seventies.
"Renaldo and Clara" is a hotchpotch ;it's hard to imagine a non Dylan buff sitting through these four hours.
Like this? Try this: "Hard Rain" a 1976 concert:they wrote that the Rolling Thunder Review was moribund at the time but don't you believe them!"Hard rain" is one -hour long and there is never a dull moment !(most of the material was released on the eponymous album)
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