For Reel

Dont Look Back (1967)
January 11, 2016, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: D.A. Pennebaker
4 Stars
Dont Look BackIn the last shot of Dont Look Back, Bob Dylan sits inside of his car, head propped up on his hand as a cheering public reaches for the window that separates him from them. Director D.A. Pennebaker’s frame is tight around Dylan, giving him the feeling of smallness and of being curiously removed from his celebrity. Finally, Dylan begins discussing the assertion that he’s been called an anarchist and whether or not that serves as an apt description for him. This type of sequence must have been shocking in 1967–fans who were looking for an “inside look” at the artist would have surely been disappointed by not only the smallness of such scenes, but by how petty, mean-spirited, and pompous Dylan comes off as throughout the course of this portrait. The scenes in which Dylan is combative with the media side with the interviewers, who largely remain professional while being bullied by Dylan’s indomitable line of questioning and the sneering of his lackeys. If 1970’s Woodstock: Three Days of Peace & Music portrayed musicians as larger-than-life figures who were capable of bringing together the world in the spirit of free-loving harmony, Dont Look Back shows the ugliness and exclusivity of a very specific type of genius. Joan Baez, romantically linked with Dylan at the time, is nearly a nonentity in the film, and the more Dylan opens his mouth, the more the audience can hypothesize why she doesn’t seem as enamored with him as his yes-men.