Sunday, December 2, 2007



Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman), May 24, 1941 is an American singer-songwriter, author, musician and poet who has been a major figure in popular music for five decades. Much of Dylan's most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when he became an informal chronicler and a reluctant figurehead of American unrest. A number of his songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-changin’” became anthems of the anti-war and civil rights movements.

Marcus Carl Franklin: a young African-American musical protege calling himself Woody Guthrie
Christian Bale: Jack Rollins, the early Dylan
Heath Ledger: Robbie Clark, the Dylan that gets married
Charlotte Gainsbourg: his wife Claire
Ben Whishaw: the talking-head Arthur
Cate Blanchett: Jude at the the top-of-his-career
Richard Gere: Billy the Kid

Those of you who are regulars readers know I purposely go to a movie knowing as little about it as possible (even to the point of going into the theatre only after the trailers are shown so not to "contaminate" future viewings) relying mostly on the ratings of a few critics (but ignoring their reviews entirely) to decide whether to see a movie or not. In this way I hope to replicate the experience of the average moviegoer who pays his/her ticket and sits down to watch what unfolds. Unfortunately that does not always work because sometimes unless you are “clued in” beforehand you find yourself in the wrong movie for you or simply totally lost.

This film falls into the latter category: I never figured out that the six story lines had anything in common. Only now having gone to the official website and watched two of the trailers did I find out that these six people reflect the different personas of one man, Bob Dylan. It’s a novel idea but one that was never made clear from either the brief ramblings of some fellow at the start or any other means such as an on-screen label “Bob Dylan, the wanna-be Woody Guthrie young, black, sassy kid” or something similar.

Now I can understand why the film begins with a 11-year-old black boy who tells his travelling companions he’s already been singing and writing music for years then proceeds to demonstrate his talent and then we jump to someone else (“Bob Dylan, the wanna-be Jack Rollins type of up-and-coming troubadour”) and never see the kid again.

But for reasons I have yet to figure out, they don’t even use the name of the singer being portrayed. Instead he’s called Jude. And played by a woman rather than a man. Why?

Frankly the whole thing is such a mess it’s not worth the effort of trying to sort it out. In addition it is long, running over two hours and lacking any linear time-line means these characters frequently reappear which just adds to the confusion. Switching from black-and-white to colour and back doesn’t help either. Nor does the weird Billy-the-Kid in a carnival setting.

It’s a wonder I didn’t walk out.

for language, some sexuality and nudity.

 The reflective glass behind the music producer on the left-hand side allows you to see the camera tracking in for a close up.
 While performing in someone’s living room the strumming by the Woody Guthrie character is out of sync by at least half a beat to the music being heard.
 And his first vocal rendition is off by twice that to the words being heard.

The title comes from one of Dylan’s songs.

No comments: