Dont Look Back (1967)

“I’ve got my friends… I’m well-situated.”

Synopsis:
Young Bob Dylan is filmed both on stage and off during his final acoustic tour in England.

Genres:

Review:
D.A. Pennebaker’s cinéma vérité documentary about Bob Dylan on tour in England remains a unique and rare glimpse into his early career. From the opening sequence (essentially a music video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues”), in which Dylan flashes homemade lyric cards while Allen Ginsberg lurks in the background, it’s clear that Dylan’s subcultural roots were strong — which is not to say he necessarily comes across as a nice or noble person. As DVD Savant writes in his review:

Dylan definitely ‘performed’, or as Pennebaker tells it, ‘was on’ every time the camera rolled… The Dylan we do see is far from flattering. He’s quiet one moment and pushy the next. He openly baits reporters who ask vague questions in vain hope of ‘drawing him out.’ He can be something of a bully, and there’s definitely a macho tone to the way he and his hepcats hold court.

At least there’s something refreshing in knowing we’re not seeing a sanitized version of Dylan. He may be performing — that is what he does — but he allows us a glimpse inside his world (including scenes with an impossibly young Joan Baez) for a few weeks, which is worth it.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine cinéma vérité filming and cinematography
  • Many memorable moments

Must See?
Yes, as an engrossing cult documentary. Listed as a Cult Movie and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.

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