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No Direction Home

Martin Scorsese made this film about the early years of Bob Dylan’s career. With the benefit (or not, in some cases) from Dylan’s own reflections, Scorcese examines the cultural waves that were occurring on which Dylan rode to success – the folk music scene, the civil rights movement, rock and roll music, beat poets, the New York art scene. For me, this was where Scorsese worked his best magic. There are lots of still shots of the young Dylan as well as video footage of him and others, such as Joan Baez, Maria Muldaur, and others who rose to fame at the same time. I like Dylan’s earliest work the best, so I became very fascinated with his story and, of course, getting to listen to many of his iconic songs. Lots of poets and musicians provided their perspective on those early days as well. What didn’t work as well is Dylan himself. This film was made in 2005, which means he would have been 64 years old, and he seems as aloof and non-caring and evasive as he was back in his younger years. I suppose I expected more of a sense of reflection on why he thought the way he did and how he came up with some brilliant songs. I think I would have gotten the same thing from the film whether he was part of the interviews or not. But, having written that, I did really enjoy the film. Even though he doesn’t seem to think that there was anything special, Dylan gave us an incredible gift. (2020; 4 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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