65 Revisited

  • 2007
  • 1 HR 05 MIN
  • NR

Good news for all you Bob Dylan die-hards who always regretted that D.A. Pennebaker chose to excise most of the performances from his groundbreaking verite tour documentary DONT LOOK BACK. Pennebaker has gone back into his archives and assembled all the onstage footage he and co-cameraman Howard Alk shot during Dylan's spring '65 tour of England, along with...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Good news for all you Bob Dylan die-hards who always regretted that D.A. Pennebaker chose to excise most of the performances from his groundbreaking verite tour documentary DONT LOOK BACK. Pennebaker has gone back into his archives and assembled all the onstage footage he and co-cameraman Howard Alk shot during Dylan's spring '65 tour of England, along with a few interesting odds and ends. While not as revealing as the original film, there's some great stuff here: More hilarious Dylan vs. the Press put-downs, a cool moment in which occasional paramour Nico debates the benefits of a yellow hair ribbon with Dylan's manager Albert Grossman, footage of a soon-to-be-jettisoned Joan Baez posing with her "ragamuffin" for the press, and an alternate version of Pennebaker's famous cue-card Scopitone for "Subterranean Homesick Blues." In an interesting foretelling of things to come, we also see Dylan intently studying John Mayall's loud and fully electric Bluesbreakers during an English TV appearance. Without all the snarky, hotel-room footage Dylan actually comes off a little sweeter and a little less burned-out, particularly when it comes to dealing with his fans. But with a few notable exceptions -- including an entrancing "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" -- there's a perfunctory feel to a lot of the performances: Dylan was in fact looking back, playing a lot of the acoustic-folk material he had already left behind. His artistic sensibility had already begun to far outrun his public persona, and while Dylan is seen here still graciously playing what he knew his fans wanted to hear, he'd make good on his threat to come back in a year sounding completely different. Returning to many of the same venues the following spring with, astonishingly, both Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde already in the can, and backed by the loud electric guitars and drums of the Hawks, Dylan would confront audiences with a violent sound they weren't prepared or willing to hear and, arguably, invent Punk Rock a good ten years before the Sex Pistols.

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