Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
USA, 1967. Leacock-Pennebaker. Screenplay by D.A. Pennebaker. Cinematography by Howard Alk, Jones Alk, Ed Emshwiller, D.A. Pennebaker. Produced by John Court, Albert Grossman. Film Editing by D.A. Pennebaker.
Bob Dylan‘s 1965 tour of Great Britain is captured by D.A. Pennebaker’s curious, probing camera in this superb music documentary, one whose form and content would become the standard of all films to follow. Dylan’s bold, charming presence on stage, holding audiences in his thrall for entire performances of just him strumming his guitar and playing harmonica while singing his poetic lyrics, is an interesting contrast to the man we see behind the scenes: sometimes retiring and shy, he always gives fans and reporters a direct and candid response, in some cases getting his back up when feeling attacked such as the infamous dressing down he delivers to Time Magazine’s London arts and science correspondent Horace Freeland Judson. Donovan, Joan Baez and Alan Price are also on hand to give terrific performances as members of his entourage, and Pennebaker gives them as much candid attention as he does his subject; there’s never a sense that he is cutting scenes in any careful way to shape an image either good or bad, but seems instead to be interested in getting him at his most charismatic (good or bad) and manages to do so in a rich variety of situations (among the best of them his politely appreciating the compliments of the “Wife of the Sheriff of Nottingham”). Gorgeously shot in black and white, the film features the very famous cue card performance of “Subterranean Homesick Blues”.
The Criterion Collection: #786