Don't Look Back

Don't Look Back

4.0 7
Director: D.A. Pennebaker

Cast: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Donovan

     
 

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In 1965, filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker accompanied Bob Dylan to England to make a film about the singer/songwriter's British tour. At the time, no one could have known how fortuitous Pennebaker's timing would prove to be. Within a few months of this tour, Dylan would forsake his role as The Conscience of Folk Music to pick up a Fender Stratocaster and play rock and roll.

Overview

In 1965, filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker accompanied Bob Dylan to England to make a film about the singer/songwriter's British tour. At the time, no one could have known how fortuitous Pennebaker's timing would prove to be. Within a few months of this tour, Dylan would forsake his role as The Conscience of Folk Music to pick up a Fender Stratocaster and play rock and roll. Within a year, Dylan would suffer a motorcycle accident that would put him out of commission for nearly 18 months. Recording several brilliant solo performances and capturing a wealth of fly-on-the-wall footage of Dylan's interactions with friends and strangers, Pennebaker caught Dylan on the cusp of a radical career change, and the man in this film seems to be thrashing about in his shackles, looking for some sort of escape route.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Rachel Saltz
A portrait of the artist as a young brat, D. A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back follows Bob Dylan on his 1965 tour of Britain. On the cusp of his incarnation as a rock-'n-roll icon, Dylan exhibits an eerie confidence and self-possession on stage. Offstage, the center of a media onslaught -- almost quaint to today's eyes -- Dylan is a whirlwind of words, sometimes charming and insightful, sometimes badgering and sophomoric. He delights in irritating journalists small and large (he informs a Time reporter that a bum vomiting in the street is what's "real") and playing bad boy with his hangers-on and pals -- Alan Price, Bob Neuwirth, Joan Baez, and, in a wonderfully vicious sequence, Donovan. Pennebaker's verité camera shows clearly what sets Dylan apart from the hurly-burly that surrounds him: his ability to withdraw and focus. Watch him typing lyrics in a hotel room while Baez sings, or in a telling moment just before going onstage: Neuwirth clowns, people wander in and out, but Dylan is already apart and alone -- the artist ready to step into the spotlight of the world stage.
All Movie Guide - Scott Engel
Bob Dylan is one of the most important figures of 20th century America and 1965-1966 was his most prolific period. Within this short time he wrote, recorded, and released three masterpieces (Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde), plugged in and got booed at the Newport Folk Festival, toured Europe twice, and changed the face of rock & roll. The first European tour was chronicled in Don't Look Back, a documentary by D.A. Pennebaker, who was wise enough to give very little screen time to stage performances. Instead, he turned the camera on inside limos, hotel rooms, and backstage, giving us the man behind the music. Seeing performers behind the scenes is common today with Behind the Music and similar programs, but in 1965, the idea that someone could be just as interesting off-stage as on was radical thinking. The film captures a critical time in Dylan's career, having just released Bringing It All Back Home, his first "electric, rock & roll" record; he is changing so quickly that he literally can't even keep up with himself. When he booked the tour, he didn't assemble a band, because at that time, he was still a solo performer. Now, he clearly wants to move past the old material, but can not due to the fact no one is backing him up. His frustration runs so deep that at one point in the film when a mic cuts out while he's performing, he keeps playing despite the fact he can't be heard. He's annoyed with journalists who want him to explain what his impact has been when he just wants to keep going, and not look back. Much is made of his savage treatment of the press in this film, but it's the smaller moments that make this a must-see. These include an impromptu hotel room performance of "Lost Highway," a view of Bob working out a song on a piano, and a hysterical conversation where Dylan and his manager, Albert Grossman, try to figure out why the English press is calling him an anarchist. Other treats include very rare footage of Dylan at 19 performing for a small group of blacks in the Deep South and the famous "Subterranean Homesick Blues" clip. Don't Look Back is an uncompromising look at an artist dealing with the burdens of fame while trying to grow, and is required viewing for all music fans.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/19/1991
UPC:
0075993827538
Original Release:
1967
Source:
Warner Bros / Wea

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Don't Look Back 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film tells the story of Bob Dylan¿s 1965 tour of England. It is a fly on the wall look at the artist and is not very flattering. He is impatient with almost everyone around him and toys with the press during interviews. There is not much concert footage but you sense that Dylan is ready to move on to the electric music he would soon begin to play onstage. Listen to the Live 1966 CD and you will hear the tension between Dylan and his British audience explode. The film is interesting but I doubt I will ever watch it again.
anselmus More than 1 year ago
The other reviews of this film don't seem to be very positive. I thought the film justified its reputation. One definitely has a sense of Dylan's genius, and the quality of his spirit. The alleged abrasive quality of his personality is immediately apparent, but if one were to judge fairly he is not as unlikable as the one other reviewer made him out. He was at this time a person of very high intelligence which he wanted to express as much as possible. If he was to achieve that he couldn't flatter everyone he met. He might achieve some brief popularity but what was singular and remarkable in his personality, intelligence and outlook would have been diluted and lost.
JohnQ More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful documentary on Dylan during his acoustic tour in 1965. There are some brilliant moments here, some uncomfortable moments here, and some lines that have stuck with me for 40 years. In other words, this is a great documentary. No Dylan fan should be without it. If you don't like it. "give it to Donovan".
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