DVD Review: Bob Dylan ? Don?t Look Back: '65 Tour Deluxe Edition

Bob Dylan
Don?t Look Back: ’65 Tour Deluxe Edition

Docudrama (NVG-9824) 2 DVDs, 2 Books

Grade: ****

With his hand-held camera, documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker joined Bob Dylan?s ?65 tour of England. The result, Don?t Look Back, became one of the first, if not the first, rockumentaries ? a cinema verite travelogue whose cohesion beneath the fragmentation fit Dylan?s surreal lyrics.

Still performing solo with just an acoustic guitar and harmonica, Dylan was then emerging as the ’60s prophet who claimed to have no answers.

?I don?t believe in anything,? we watch him tell the press.
Cheaply shot in black and white, Don?t Look Back is a telling glimpse into Dylan?s world at a particular moment. Along with informal and on-stage song excerpts, we get the humor, the squabbles, the put-ons, the sarcasm and the adulation.

Joan Baez?s hotel-room rendition of his obscure ?Percy?s Song? leaves most of her ?69 Dylan tribute Any Day Now in the dust. We also encounter Allen Ginsberg, Alan Price of The Animals, folkie expatriate Derrol Adams, Dylan?s business-minded manager Albert Grossman and his wife Sally (the woman on Bringing It All Back Home?s cover).

Dylan?s nervousness about competition from Donovan is palpable.
As for the film?s famous cue-card-tossing ?Subterranean Homesick Blues? opener, the deluxe $49.95 package offers (along with a photo-laden paperback reprint of the film?s 1967 companion book, whose song credits aren?t always accurate) a small flip book of the song?s video. The box?s second DVD, Bob Dylan 65 Revisited, provides an alternate ?Subterranean? shot on a rooftop with Dylan in a double-breasted coat) along with outtakes from the original documentary.

Revisited?s strong concert footage includes a surprisingly subdued ?It?s All Over Now, Baby Blue,? while Dylan?s friendliness to fans runs counter to the aloof mystique that?s long surrounded him.

The two-DVD set?s outtakes are much worthier than some expanded CDs are. But for budget-minded Dylanophiles, a single DVD with only the original film (digitally remastered) is also available. Despite Dylan?s and Baez?s anti-establishment stances, there?s an innocence to Don?t Look Back that would soon be forever lost. Do look back.

Leave a Reply