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With: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, Al Kooper, Maria Muldaur, Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 207
Date: 03/19/2013

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Bringing It All Back Home

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For years Bob Dylan fans have wondered who the "real" Bob Dylan is. Each time a new biography or a new CD comes out, writers and reviewers band together to decide whether or not it's finally happened. Back in 1967, D.A. Pennebaker made a documentary about Dylan, Don't Look Back, that perpetuated the mystery, as did Larry David's 2003 film Masked and Anonymous. Now Martin Scorsese has taken on the subject, and created a palpable excitement in the process. Scorsese was given four hours in which to do the job, and had the complete cooperation of the man himself. Surely, this would be the project that would let us get to know the "real" Bob.

Alas, not so much. Though Scorsese assembles an impressive amount of footage and interviews -- many more candid that anyone could feasibly expect -- the "real" Dylan still does not emerge. If No Direction Home proves anything, it's that the "real" Dylan will probably never emerge, or indeed, may not even exist. No Direction Home begins at the beginning and ends in 1966, with Dylan's motorcycle accident. We learn about his infatuation with Woody Guthrie and his early attempts to mimic him before he found his own style. We learn about his early folk hits like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changing" before he alienated fans by turning "electric." Dylan's friends and colleagues reveal how difficult he could be to work with, how he kept changing his mind, doing his own thing. Joan Baez complains about how Dylan never showed up for demonstrations or protests (or even Woodstock), and Dylan himself seems not to remember how or why he wrote certain lyrics.

No Direction Home will appeal to die-hard Dylan fans, and especially to those like myself who are new and just coming to appreciate his work. Ironically though, the awkward Masked and Anonymous did more to bring me to Dylan's music than did this new film. Even so, the new film comes with hoards of rare performance footage that helps a great deal.

DVD Details: Paramount's DVD -- released around the same time as the film's PBS broadcast -- comes on two discs, with bonus archive footage and the option to play just the songs.

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