Both a classic documentary and a vital pop-cultural artefact, DA Pennebakers portrait of Bob Dylan in Dont Look Back captures the seminal singer-songwriter on the cusp of his transformation from folk prophet to rock trendsetter. Shot during Dylans 1965 British concert tour, Dont Look Back employs an edgy vérité style that was, and is, a snug fit with the artists own consciously rough-hewn persona. Its handheld black-and-white images and often-gritty London backdrops suggest cinematic extensions of the archetypal monochrome portraits that graced Dylans career-making,... early-60s album jackets. Pennebakers access to the famously private troubadour lets us witness Dylans shifting moods as he performs, relaxes with his entourage (including then lover Joan Baez, road manager Bob Neuwirth and poker-faced manager Albert Grossman) and jousts with other musicians (notably Animals alumnus Alan Price and Scottish folksinger Donovan), fans and press. Its a measure of the filmmakers acuity that the conversations are often as gripping as Dylans solo performances. Grossmans machinations with British promoters, Baezs hip serenity, a grizzled British journalists surrender to the fact of Dylans artistry and the artists own taunting dismissal of a clueless sycophant are all absorbing. With the exception of the studio recording of "Subterranean Homesick Blues", the live performances are constrained by crude audio gear. Their urgency, however, is timeless, as is Pennebakers film, a legitimate cornerstone for any serious rock video collection. --Sam Sutherland [show more]
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