No Direction Home: Bob Dylan

 
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  • His Direction Home
    Over the past several months or so I have spent some time going over the musical influences back in the early 1960's that had an effect on my political development as I was growing up, or that just caught my ear. Not surprisingly many of those same musical influences still resonate today. Of those early 1960's influences none probably was greater than that of Bob Dylan, no only because he had a different sound but because his super-charged protest-oriented lyrics `spoke' to me. That Dylan could only go a very short distance along that political protest route that others, including myself, had to travel does not negate the important of that influence.

    As this very well-done almost four hour in-depth Martin Scorsese documentary makes abundantly clear I was not alone in feeling that influence. Others also felt that Dylan `spoke' to them, if not as the voice of the "Generation of `68" then for a moment. I have previously reviewed a number of Bob Dylan's early albums ("The Free-Wheelin' Bob Dylan", "The Times They Are A-Changin'", "Bringing It All Back Home", etc.) in this space as I believe that those albums reflect both the prime period of his musical influence and, when future generations begin to ask their versions of the social questions posed by the 1960's, will be the music they will be pressing to learn 100 years from now.

    This documentary is also formatted to reflect fully on that above-mentioned shared underlying understanding of Dylan's career and place in the folk/rock pantheon. The structure of the film also reflects the now standard method of doing a film documentary. Plenty of clips of Dylan's childhood, youth, the early days in the burgeoning folk scene in Greenwich Village in the early 1960's and plenty of clips of early performances up until that decisive period in 1965 when Dylan decided to move in another direction combining his still thoughtful but by then more personal lyrics with an electric guitar (and band to back that sound up). That changeover gets full attention by having clips of the breakthrough Royal Hall concert interspersed through the film. The film thus has its central focus on this switch-over that is a part of what made Dylan so controversial and upsetting to traditional folkies back in the day.

    Additionally, this film also has something that is not always the case with biographic documentaries; the subject himself holding forth on the meaning of it all. Most times that would not necessarily be a revelation as such efforts are usually unproductive. Here, however, the notoriously private and generally unresponsive (to interview questions, at least) Dylan contributes his take on what is bound to be used as a primary source for "the first draft" of his effect on popular music in the late 20th century. Although Dylan generally responded to the interviewers questions here I would argue that for whatever purposes he told no more than we already knew or what he wanted told. Not unusual in the famous but a little maddening here for those, like this reviewer, who happen to be serious looking at the question of "the meaning of the 1960's. But, so be it.

    Fortunately another feature of theses types of documentaries helped out on that question. The film is heavily seeded with comments, performances and anecdotes by many of the performers still standing and other interested parties of the early 1960's who personally knew Dylan or had something of interest to say about the times. The list of "talking heads" (to the good here, I usually use this phrase with a little tongue-in cheek") brought into this production formed a veritable who's who of those in or around that folk scene at the time.

    Most informative of this crowd, not surprisingly, were the late folk historian, Dave Van Ronk, and the, as of this writing, very much alive Pete Seeger who not only performed music but made it their business to know and keep the folk tradition alive. Van Ronk was especially informative about the competitiveness of the early folkies mainly the male ones, as Joan Baez was conceded on the female side to be the "queen of the hill", to see who would become "king of folk". He also had interesting comments about the commercialization of folk music and the dreaded "selling out to mainstream culture". By Van Ronk's account backed up by other sources I have run across as well, Dylan was intensely interested in that battle. Seeger was strongest on the transition, of which he was a seminal figure, of the folk tradition from the older 1930's Great Depression `lefties' like Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Cisco Houston and Lead Belly to the new kids on the block.

    Others of note along the way include the afore-mentioned Joan Baez, at one time also Dylan's girlfriend, with some very insightful comments giving us the "skinny' of what it was like actually living with such a whirlwind and about the strains on their relationship (and her psyche) of her direction toward more political involvement, and his away from such activity. Liam Clancy (of Tommy Makem and The Clancy Brothers) and Maria Muldaur (most noted then for her key role as singer in the Jim Kweskin Jug Band) add some spice to the conversation. There are many others who have something to say about particular events but of that crowd I would select John Cohen (of "The New Lost City Ramblers") as most informative about the history of what was going in those times and the schism between the `purists' and those who wanted to `sell out' for filthy lucre. Again, Cohen is not a surprising choice, as "Lost City" spent much time on tracing the folk traditions (and it included Mike Seeger, Pete's half- brother so you know they were interested in history).

    Others have, endlessly, gone on about Bob Dylan's role as the voice of his generation (and mine), his lyrics and what they do or do not mean and his place in the rock or folk pantheons, or both. After viewing this documentary it still seems hard to believe now both as to the performer as well as to what was being attempted that anyone would take umbrage at a performer using an electric guitar to tell a folk story (or any story for that matter). The well-known English Royal Hall performance or that equally well-known three song folk/rock set at Newport in 1965 hardly seem worth getting steamed up about now. It is not necessary to go into all the details of what or what did not happen with Pete Seeger at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 (although this incident gets a full airing by all parties) to know that one should be glad, glad as hell, that Bob Dylan continued to listen to his own drummer and carry on a career based on electronic music.

    Note: Although I do not usually spend much time looking through special features sections of DVDs here there are several extras well worth looking at. They include some early performances by Dylan both highlighted in the documentary and others that did not make the cut. Additionally, a number of the "talking heads' that are heard in the documentary , including Liam Clancy and Maria Muldaur, do renditions of some Dylan's songs.

    ...more info
  • The long road
    It is great to see Dylan put into perspective of the folk movement that occurred in the late 50's and early 60's that includes so many great names like Pete Seeger, Liam Clancy, Dave Van Ronk and Arlo Guthrie. Whereas Scorsese built the story of The Band around The Last Waltz concert, here he takes his time, exploring the ins and outs of Dylan's storied early years, showing how this kid from Minnesota exploded onto the folk music scene, able to absorb and assimilate both the music and the social events of the time. Seeger quickly picked up on this young talent, who like Dylan's obvious musical and social reference, Woody Guthrie, was able to capture the mood of the time. Scorsese intersperses the documentary with a number of amusing anecdotes, the best delivered by Liam Clancy. Concert footage is edited, but then there are a number of concert DVD's available of Bob through the years. You won't be disappointed. ...more info
  • No need to go home
    Absolutely Dylan. A must for your DVD collection. The Dylan phenomenon has only started to amass its glactic force despite forty years of overt avoidance. Baby-boomers are remembering, X-gen is starting to appreciate, and Y/Z crowd are discovering Bobby Z and his poet tree. He may yet learn to roll with the punches....more info
  • "Not as represented"
    "Not as represented" is the phrase used when rating a seller on Amazon.

    "No Direction Home" could be validly advertised as concentrating only on the earliest part of Dylan's long career. If it is to be part of a continuing series on the artist, it would be fantastic. But:

    The first disk is fascinating. The controversy with the folk purists takes up quite a bit of time.

    Unfortunately, the second disk deals with nothing but an old and unimportant controversy. Fewer whining fans and more of Dylan's recent career would have been welcome. Dylan's final impatience at the constant requests for his viewpoints on the whole silly business was very understandable. It ends up being an older fan's documentary about music politics.

    The man has moved on. If this documentary was truly about a whole career, why, as my husband said, was there no "Blood on The Tracks"?

    When Scorsese finishes the documentary he could just keep Dylan's performances on the second disk and flip the rest. Considering the length of Dylan's career, he's probably going to need the disk space.

    The first disk is a treasure -- probably the reason the second disk was such a disappointment....more info
  • Electrifying!
    I'm not a music connoisseur so I can't offer any pithy comments about his musicianship or knowledgeable comments about Bob Dylan's place within the broader context of American music. But I well remember the first time I heard his voice over a car radio. It was "Positively 4th Street". I had never heard those kinds of words before, sung by that kind of voice, and in that tone of voice! I didn't know why or to whom he was flinging those bitter, condemning phrases, but I knew in my heart that he was absolutely justified. Bob Dylan(though I didn't know this or anything else about him at the time)was eight years older than me, and in 1965 he seemed like some kind of disembodied messiah to my rebellious teenage mind. I listened religiously to see if I could hear that voice again, for in that time and place there was no such thing as a personal music collection for kids. Soon, I heard "Like a Rolling Stone", another song of renunciation and distancing from conformity and cliques that seemed to me to contain a wisdom and righteous anger that fitted my own mood perfectly. These songs became anthems for me during the mid-sixties, even though they were played but seldom on the local radio station in that rural farm community. Dylan was so little known in that area that the radio announcer always pronounced his name Di-lan, with a long "I". Now, after all these decades, with my memories of that voice and its message receded into the past, I decided to check out this documentary "No Direction Home" just out of curiosity. I'll admit I expected to be disappointed. My God! What an amazing discovery to find that the reality of the phenomenon of Bob Dylan that I encountered in this film even exceeded those long-ago idealizations that I had formed. Not that I indulge in hero-worship any more or think Dylan is some kind of saint. He is certainly not that, as I think the documentary reveals. He was simply an amazing song-writer who had an uncanny knack for wedding his poetry to a perfectly matched musical presentation. It seems obvious from his own comments that he didn't set out to capture the spirit of an age, but he did obviously intend to write songs that contained something real and meaningful. This he did in a unique and masterful way. It is truly astonishing to see the early footage of Dylan looking so very, very young and innocent, but producing this awesome music with such assurance and in a voice of such authority. Of course there are those who don't see it this way, and think he is vastly overrated. These people might as well save themselves the trouble of watching "No Direction Home". Others of us who watch the film will be even more convinced that there was a spiritual element to this music because of the way it made us feel, and that Dylan was a bit of a messiah after all, albeit an unwilling and mocking one....more info
  • A fantastic look into the life of Bob Dylan!
    For you Bob Dylan fans this is a must have. This DVD tells the whole story & then some. I was impressed with the history of music & how Dylan was inspired by the past. His musical genius is incredible and inspiring....more info
  • Great for what it is
    This documetary was absolutely fascinating and very well executed in every way. That being said, the only thing that was a slight disappointment was that this masterful filmmaker either couldn't or chose not to cover the entire breadth of the career of this truly compelling artist. It covers only the 1960's; granted the time when Dylan was at probably at the peak of his creative powers, but that is only equal to about 1/4 the whole story. At a running time of almost 4 hours, I personally would have liked to see a more complete portrait of the man & his life. That is my only complaint, though. I can still say this film was nothing less than absoluetly riveting and one of the best documetaries I have ever seen and probably ever will see....more info
  • Are All Documentaries Mere Propaganda?
    Way back in high school, I had a History teacher, Mr. Bailey, whose pet peeve was documentaries. He said that although the most interesting documentaries cover subjects that are controversial that there really isn't any such thing as objective reporting since bias is unavoidable and inevitable. He said further that you can usually determine the prejudice of the filmmaker within seconds of the start.
    I think of this argument whenever I watch a documentary and found it to be generally true with a few notable exceptions. There is for example a film called, `Jesus Camp' that has no introduction, conclusions, or incidental music in the movie with the effect that, if you read the customer reviews, you will see that there are some five star reviews that are glad to see it as an expose' of the Christian brainwash society and other five star reviewers who see it as a celebration of the Lord. If there is a disagreement among viewers about the conclusions a film draws then it usually follows the bias of the filmmaker. For example, in this film, No Direction Home, some see it as the best Dylan documentary ever and others see it as the worst, depending upon what you think of the last 44 years of Dylan's career. If you believe that Dylan's talent died with his abandonment of the folk music scene, then you may think this is the best documentary ever.
    There were two things that in my opinion keep this film from being a great documentary. First is the editing. Chronological order is essential in biographical documentaries since that is how we all live, trapped in a timeline. Flashbacks and reveries may be good dramatic devices in works of fiction that imply an autobiographical illusion, but events transpire as they transpire and when unfolding a factual report or documentary, inclusion of dreams and fantasies about how things could have been drags the work down into the world of emotional propaganda. Mr. Scorsese had the good fortune to have Mr. Dylan sit in front of the camera and talk about the phenomenon of his personal career starting in 1961 and he tastefully and professionally interspersed that interview into the new and previously unseen fascinating historical footage of the times talked about. But for some amateurish reason he continually interrupts his documentary with footage from Bob Dylan's 1966 tour wherein so-called fans jeered and booed Dylan on stage for performing with an electric rock band. This jarring and distracting footage continues interrupting throughout the documentary implying some sort of climax as the unfolding chronological events in the story move closer to that moment, and that brings me to the second point of what holds this movie back, premature ejection.
    Dylan's decision in 1965 to abandon the den of dusty beatniks and yesterday's folk songs marked not only the end of the road for fans of that genre but `No Direction Home' implies that that was the end of Dylan. it was by no means the end of Dylan's genius nor of his career which continues today, forty-four years later. Mr. Scorsese apparently was one of those who never wanted Dylan to `go electric' because that is where the documentary abruptly ends, in 1966, with Dylan on stage amidst the sea of hecklers.
    Where is the rest of the story of Dylan's brilliance that spans from Blonde On Blonde 1966 to Modern Times 2006 and beyond? The end? I don't think so....more info
  • Big Noise from Hibbing . . .
    At 3.5 hours this fascinating documentary can cover a lot of territory, and it does. Most interesting for many viewers who know Dylan only as a folk-rock star is the film's portrayal of his emergence from utter obscurity into national prominence by the age of twenty. Looking at old photographs and early footage, we see the first of his many self-inventions, based in large part on the songs of Woody Guthrie and nourished in the creative epicenter of Greenwich Village in 1960.

    For anyone who lived through the 1960s, the film also vividly recalls the political and social turmoil of that time, which did much to create the public figure of Bob Dylan the singer of "protest" songs. We see him thrust by others into the role of spokesman for a "new generation" clamoring for social justice. And it charts the evolution of Dylan into his incarnation as folk rocker, experienced by many loyal fans and other performers as a bitter betrayal, which is where the film leaves us, in the knowledge that he had outgrown one persona to embrace one that would command an even larger fan base.

    The film's length also permits reference to a large swath of mid-century musical history, ranging from Johnny Cash to Johnny Mathis. There are also telling glimpses into the recording industry as it both shaped and attempted to anticipate the evolution of popular taste during this time. And there is much more.

    What the film doesn't do, even in its interviews with Dylan years later, is reveal him as more than a gifted opportunist who somehow tapped into the collective unconscious of his time (or so his early career is remembered by others in the music business who are interviewed in the film). Even in the rare glimpses into his private life he is, as close friend Joan Baez remembers him, self-absorbed and unpredictable, finally enigmatic.

    Special features include performances of Dylan songs by Mavis Staples, Maria Maldauer and others. My favorite is Joan Baez's "Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word," which mimicks Dylan's phrasing at points. For Dylan fans and anyone interested in the history of popular music in America, this DVD set is a total immersion in ten of its most amazing years....more info
  • Bob Dylan- No Direction Home
    A very welldone study of an American music icon. It showed why he had a fallingout with the folk "establishment". The performance segments are a true treasure for any music lover....more info
  • Facinating sounds and stories; getting to know about Bob Dylan more!
    I bought this DVD for my husband for his Christmas gift, and he has been playing it almost everyday before going to bed. He simply loves it dearly and enjoyed watching and listening to it very much. Somehow, we both just enjoyed it so much and can never get tired of it. Thank you for the fantastic production of this DVD. We think it's one of the best DVD of the time!
    ...more info
  • What a snooze!
    Bob Dylan thinks putting out of movie of him talking is supposed to be cool? Granted there are some performances but its all in black and white!!! And sometimes there's no band, just him and his boring guitar and harmonica. He doesn't even try to solo. I've seen much better rock performances by the likes of Dokken, Ratt, or Poison (take your pick). At least these newer bands look like they're trying to have fun. Bob Dylan just mopes and poses but never rocks out. Funny thing is people just seem to gobble this suff up. Sometimes there's no accounting for taste :(...more info
  • Bob Dylan - No Direction Home
    I'm not sure if the review will put my fathers name or my name as the reviewer, but I'm the son of Mark DiMartino.

    I have to say that I really enjoyed this dvd. I saw parts of it when it was aired on PBS. This actually got me into Bob Dylan. I started researching his music and I love it.

    This dvd was made very well. There is a whole lot of information that you can learn about Bob Dylan. I like how there are scenese of him performing various songs throughout too. The bonus full length Bob Dylan performances are great to have.

    I just have to say that this is for anyone. If you're a hard core fan, just getting into him, or now nothing then you'll enjoy this product. I'm really glad I purchased this and I know you will be too....more info
  • Riveting and Shocking
    Director Martin Scorsese undertakes the seemingly impossible taks of putting together the ultimate documentary of Bob Dylan's early career (1961-1966). As a long-time Bob Dylan fan, this documentary is riveting and shocking (in a positive way).

    "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan" (2 DVDs) contains quite a few surprises: first of all, Dylan himself provides commentary in a clear and focused way, not at all as one might expect from an artist who mostly appears on stage aloof, if not disinterested. Second, the footage that Scorsese uses, is absolutely astounding. Check for example the various Newport Folk Festival appearances. While DVD1 traces the early years of Dylan's childhood, and gives a good musical context of which artists influenced Dylan, the real treasures are on DVD2, and in particular the footage from the 1966 UK and European tour. Watch how an exhausted Dylan towards the end exasperates "I don't want to go to Italy! I don't want to go nowhere! I just want to go home!" The documentary ends with the infamous "Judas" performance of "Like a Rolling Stone", which has long been available on CD, but now for the first time is shown on film. And amidst it all, Dylan the elder-statesman comments how sick he was of it all by then (mid-1966). No surprise then that he made such subsequent incomprehensible albums like "Self-Portrait"! Anything to be one step ahead of the public's expectations.

    The DVD comes with a number of extra features, the best of which is a collection of 8 Dylan performances, including early TV performances, "Mr. Tambourine Man" from the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, an unfinished "I Can't Leave Her Behind" from his hotel room in 1966, and 2 more songs from the 1966 UK tour. The sound quality is surprisingly good throughout. In all, this should be required viewing for anyone-young and old--interested in music (and not just folk or rock). Outstanding from beginning to end! BUY IT!...more info
  • His Direction Home
    Over the past several months or so I have spent some time going over the musical influences back in the early 1960's that had an effect on my political development as I was growing up, or that just caught my ear. Not surprisingly many of those same musical influences still resonate today. Of those early 1960's influences none probably was greater than that of Bob Dylan, no only because he had a different sound but because his super-charged protest-oriented lyrics `spoke' to me. That Dylan could only go a very short distance along that political protest route that others, including myself, had to travel does not negate the important of that influence.

    As this very well-done almost four hour in-depth Martin Scorsese documentary makes abundantly clear I was not alone in feeling that influence. Others also felt that Dylan `spoke' to them, if not as the voice of the "Generation of `68" then for a moment. I have previously reviewed a number of Bob Dylan's early albums ("The Free-Wheelin' Bob Dylan", "The Times They Are A-Changin'", "Bringing It All Back Home", etc.) in this space as I believe that those albums reflect both the prime period of his musical influence and, when future generations begin to ask their versions of the social questions posed by the 1960's, will be the music they will be pressing to learn 100 years from now.

    This documentary is also formatted to reflect fully on that above-mentioned shared underlying understanding of Dylan's career and place in the folk/rock pantheon. The structure of the film also reflects the now standard method of doing a film documentary. Plenty of clips of Dylan's childhood, youth, the early days in the burgeoning folk scene in Greenwich Village in the early 1960's and plenty of clips of early performances up until that decisive period in 1965 when Dylan decided to move in another direction combining his still thoughtful but by then more personal lyrics with an electric guitar (and band to back that sound up). That changeover gets full attention by having clips of the breakthrough Royal Hall concert interspersed through the film. The film thus has its central focus on this switch-over that is a part of what made Dylan so controversial and upsetting to traditional folkies back in the day.

    Additionally, this film also has something that is not always the case with biographic documentaries; the subject himself holding forth on the meaning of it all. Most times that would not necessarily be a revelation as such efforts are usually unproductive. Here, however, the notoriously private and generally unresponsive (to interview questions, at least) Dylan contributes his take on what is bound to be used as a primary source for "the first draft" of his effect on popular music in the late 20th century. Although Dylan generally responded to the interviewers questions here I would argue that for whatever purposes he told no more than we already knew or what he wanted told. Not unusual in the famous but a little maddening here for those, like this reviewer, who happen to be serious looking at the question of "the meaning of the 1960's. But, so be it.

    Fortunately another feature of theses types of documentaries helped out on that question. The film is heavily seeded with comments, performances and anecdotes by many of the performers still standing and other interested parties of the early 1960's who personally knew Dylan or had something of interest to say about the times. The list of "talking heads" (to the good here, I usually use this phrase with a little tongue-in cheek") brought into this production formed a veritable who's who of those in or around that folk scene at the time.

    Most informative of this crowd, not surprisingly, were the late folk historian, Dave Van Ronk, and the, as of this writing, very much alive Pete Seeger who not only performed music but made it their business to know and keep the folk tradition alive. Van Ronk was especially informative about the competitiveness of the early folkies mainly the male ones, as Joan Baez was conceded on the female side to be the "queen of the hill", to see who would become "king of folk". He also had interesting comments about the commercialization of folk music and the dreaded "selling out to mainstream culture". By Van Ronk's account backed up by other sources I have run across as well, Dylan was intensely interested in that battle. Seeger was strongest on the transition, of which he was a seminal figure, of the folk tradition from the older 1930's Great Depression `lefties' like Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Cisco Houston and Lead Belly to the new kids on the block.

    Others of note along the way include the afore-mentioned Joan Baez, at one time also Dylan's girlfriend, with some very insightful comments giving us the "skinny' of what it was like actually living with such a whirlwind and about the strains on their relationship (and her psyche) of her direction toward more political involvement, and his away from such activity. Liam Clancy (of Tommy Makem and The Clancy Brothers) and Maria Muldaur (most noted then for her key role as singer in the Jim Kweskin Jug Band) add some spice to the conversation. There are many others who have something to say about particular events but of that crowd I would select John Cohen (of "The New Lost City Ramblers") as most informative about the history of what was going in those times and the schism between the `purists' and those who wanted to `sell out' for filthy lucre. Again, Cohen is not a surprising choice, as "Lost City" spent much time on tracing the folk traditions (and it included Mike Seeger, Pete's half- brother so you know they were interested in history).

    Others have, endlessly, gone on about Bob Dylan's role as the voice of his generation (and mine), his lyrics and what they do or do not mean and his place in the rock or folk pantheons, or both. After viewing this documentary it still seems hard to believe now both as to the performer as well as to what was being attempted that anyone would take umbrage at a performer using an electric guitar to tell a folk story (or any story for that matter). The well-known English Royal Hall performance or that equally well-known three song folk/rock set at Newport in 1965 hardly seem worth getting steamed up about now. It is not necessary to go into all the details of what or what did not happen with Pete Seeger at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 (although this incident gets a full airing by all parties) to know that one should be glad, glad as hell, that Bob Dylan continued to listen to his own drummer and carry on a career based on electronic music.

    Note: Although I do not usually spend much time looking through special features sections of DVDs here there are several extras well worth looking at. They include some early performances by Dylan both highlighted in the documentary and others that did not make the cut. Additionally, a number of the "talking heads' that are heard in the documentary , including Liam Clancy and Maria Muldaur, do renditions of some Dylan's songs.

    ...more info
  • portrait of a mythic young artist and then some....
    You don't have to be a Dylanologist or even a generational fellow traveler (though it doesn't hurt) to be completely captivated by Martin Scorcese's 200 min. documentary of the magnetic early career of the legendary artist. With a carefully textured combination of archival footage- some never seen before- and contemporary interviews, including a revealing and engaging running commentary by the notoriously elusive subject himself, Scorsese portrays in fascinating detail the unlikely and uncanny transformation of the small town Bobby Zimmerman into the daemonic lyrical genius whose clairvoyant creative fusion with the nascent Sixties' zeitgeist shaped and catalyzed a momentous cultural tipping point like no other artist of his time. It is a great story told by a master story teller.

    For me, however, the ultimate achievement of this film goes beyond its vivid portrait of a mythic young artist. It is the nagging and even haunting question that the film eventually leaves us with; the indecipherable mystery- in plain sight- of Dylan himself.

    The genius of Scorcese is what he is able to show us. That there is such a thing as an artistic charismatic; that there are larger than life phantoms who appear seemingly out of nowhere, whose mesmerizing, mercurial incandescence can manifest a preternatural subjectivity so intense and at the same time so permeable they are able, in the swirling ebb and flow of their creativity, to transfigure themselves over and over again at will. In doing so they are able to bring their art to a white hot heat that galvanizes and transfigures the imagination of almost everybody it touches, and, after the fire has subsided, leaves an indelible stamp that even they do not understand.
    ...more info
  • A masterpiece of documentary filmmaking
    One of the main treats is the wonderful, rare archival footage of 50's-era Hibbing, early 60's Greenwich Village, and numerous original pathfinders of the genre that would become branded by the recording industry as folk music.

    The first disk is the most interesting, and provides a background of how the artist was created. From his beginnings as a youth in Hibbing, listening late into the night to performers on distant AM stations, he latches onto their sounds, and the musician-composer begins to develop. We see a great artist growing not in a vacuum, but rather through a compulsion to consume and digest everything around him, and to experiment without boundaries. His extrication from the drab canons of Hibbing becomes as inevitable as the sunrise.

    The running narrative by the present-day Dylan lends an autobiographical sense to the documentary. What is revealed is not just the events, but also how he felt about those tumultuous years, a viewpoint available only now that he feels comfortable openly reflecting on these experiences.

    Viewers may find the scenes of Dylan in his post-acoustic concerts with The Band a little drawn out, and some of these performances do seem dreadful. The audiences clearly thought so, and perhaps that is the way the filmmaker thought you might react. This is what Dylan eventually became, right before his motorcycle accident. You are left to decide for yourself whether, at that point in time, he had descended from his best work.
    ...more info
  • Over rated director covers rising star
    This is a long documentary from a vastly over rated director that only covers the initial discovery of a rising star. The pic is good in that it shows how Dylan evolves his music from a amateur Woody Guthrie imitation to polished professional, discovering in himself a talent for word play, a fixation with a certain rough edge sound and a desire to express his music only the way he likes.

    But it covers only the first decade and a half of his long career, which for youngsters like me - for whom his lexigraphy is already firmly entrenched in legend - omits the musically better, albeit not most influential, portion of his career. It stops in 1966.

    When I grew up, Dylan's folk tunes were already the wisdom of the ages: Springsteen was hailed as the new poet for my generation. Yet this was the time Dylan was producing his complete work. It was the 70s when he produced "epigrams of surrealistic poetry and emotional intrigue" blended with a blues band. These are the gems that shine today as the best selling Dylan albums of all time.

    There is not much on this pic about his family (did he have brothers? Did he involve them in his career? Did he buy Mom a Cadillac?). There is little about Joan Baez, her obviously awesome talent, or his other loves. There is little about how well the songs did on the pop charts, then or now.

    Ray, De-Lovely, All That Jazz and Walk the Line are all full Hollywood musical bio-pics that impact not only the joy of the music, but also the character of the artist and the flavor of the times. Sadly, this one does not.
    ...more info
  • Dylan's a Riot
    Classic Dylan quotes:
    (1) Dense interviewer: "How many other folk singers have you influenced?"
    Dylan: "136"
    (2) Interviewer: "Do you think Donovan writes good folk songs?"
    Dylan: "No... but he's a nice guy"
    (3) Interviewer: "Do you consider yourself primarily a poet or a singer?"
    Dylan: "I consider myself primarily a song and dance man"
    (4) Interviewer: "Are you for or against the war?"
    Dylan: "Yes"
    (5) Joan Baez: "How come you don't want to sing on stage with me, Bobby?"
    Dylan: "Don't take this the wrong way, but I hate your voice"
    (6) Interviewer: "Does electric music hurt your ears?"
    Dylan: "What?"
    (7) Dylan: "People try to figure out the meaning of my songs. I don't even know what they mean"
    (8) Don Rickles at a function, to Dylan: "You'll make it in this business if you'll just stop mumbling."
    (9) Interviewer: "Why do you smoke cigarettes?"
    Dylan: "What else are you going to do with cigarettes?"
    (10) Interviewer: "What's it like being a Jew from Minnesota?"
    Dylan: "Not sure, I've never been a Jew from anywhere else."
    (11) Interviewer: "What were you trying to say in 'Blowin in the Wind'?"
    Dylan: "I don't remember"
    ...more info
  • Giftee was pleased
    I gave this video as a gift, and the recipient was thrilled. I have owned it myself for years, and it is the best documentary of Bob Dylan around. Price was great, shipping was very fast, I am happy!...more info
  • Dylan reinvented again, this time as human.
    Scorsese, an unabashed fan, reveals the real Dylan. His camera lens does not blink and Bob appears as himself. Yes, we all know his is a living icon but his too, too solid flesh is real. Not surprisingly, under the bright lights and microscope of Scorsese's documentation, Bobbie (as Joan Baez calls him)is still way cool....more info
  • For the newcomer into Dylan as well as the longtime fanatics
    I consider myself to be somewhere in between newcomers into Bob Dylan's work and his longtime fans. I first started paying close attention to his legacy of work around the turn of the century, and each step of the way I feel more and more respect for what he accomplished and his willingness to take risks and navigate against the current many times.

    The documentary "No Direction Home - Bob Dylan" by Martin Scorsese, only underscores further what a fantastic artist Dylan is. It follows him from his early days until the time right before his motorcycle accident in 1966, jumping between footage of interviews with the artist, friends, colleagues and people that knew him along the way, and live performances from his 1963-1966 period.

    Granted that the special features in the DVD set are not particularly special, the 207 minutes the 2-part documentary lasts feel like a short time, when you realize the transcendence of Dylan's work and how he broke new musical ground along the way. "No Direction Home" (a title taken from the lyrics to his classic "Like a Rolling Stone") will entertain and inform newcomers into his music and die-hard Bob Dylan fans alike, as it sheds new light on a fascinating era in our contemporary history....more info
  • The Archetype For People Under 30.....
    With all the acolytes coming down like hard rain from his colleagues,lovers,the poets..the fans..from all sides Dylan near at the end of the film says "I Just wanna Go Home"...he did, to a motorcycle accident..since then the spark and genius remained constant as David Van Ronk says Dylan was able to tap into the collective unconscious or as Allen Ginsburg said Dylan became one with his breath, his movements between mind and body became synchronized into this non-dual being of total unity of spirit and physicality...the defiance of time..Dylan talks about constant becoming...
    What a treat the great Scorsese gives us with all his films and now this tribute of Dylan added to the arsenal.The journey is well captured, the process is clear and vital and one gets the feeling much has not changed and stays the same despite the new meanings that time bestows yet the movies abrupt ending at this point in Dylan's life kind of disappointed in me .indeed, the most creative or formative part of what we know Dylan as is here in full glory with a totally outrageous flow capturing a very talented man's life between past and future.
    I wish the movie did not end,not thinking it would when it did since it would have been interesting to see the man's take with marriage,children,religion,middle age..and beyond..the ruminations,the dreams,recollections,reflections,memories are all on display here...very humble..
    Great footage flows seamlessly,great interviews... ...more info
  • Faithful to himself, and to his music...
    This documentary is really LONG, but it is more than WORTH watching. Why? Because it tells us a lot about Bob Dylan, or at least as much as Dylan himself is prepared to say for now.

    "Part One" of "No direction home" goes from the late 1950's to 1963, and deals with the place where Dylan grew, and the kind of music he liked. I found this specially interesting, as I hadn't heard of Woody Guthrie, Tommy Makem, and others that had an enormous influence on Dylan. I enjoyed watching and hearing him as he developed as an artist, and changed accordingly.

    "Part two" covers the period that goes from 1963 to 1966. It is very good, and has great footage of Dylan's concerts, like "Part one". The main difference between the two dvds probably is that the second one lacks the kind of explanation regarding the historical context that the first one has. All the same, it is enjoyable, and only obviously in fault when compared to "Part one".

    This documentary includes lots of footage of the young Dylan and comments made by the "old" Dylan, the person that young and gifted man grew up to be. Not only that, but there are also quite a few interviews of people who knew him at one moment or the other, and that help to shed some light on him. The interviews that involve Joan Baez are probably the most insightful regarding Bob Dylan's character, and his refusal to be trapped in a role as symbol of the left.

    I think that if there is a constant in Dylan's career, it is probably the fact that he refuses to be pinned down, to be anything other than himself, and that is nothing less and nothing more than what he feels like being at the moment. "No direction home" shows that, and I think we should congratulate Martin Scorsese for that. So... thanks, Martin, but please bear in mind I really, really want to watch the sequel :)

    Belen Alcat ...more info
  • Outstanding, nuff said...
    I've been a Bob Dylan fan for a few years now, but the feeling has been reinforced a thousand times after seeing this. I always thought that the best Dylan was the mid-60's Dylan. After seeing the film, I have a greater appreciation for the folk revival, and some of the music that preceded it. Woody Guthrie was genius, Hank Williams was genius, and the mournful sonnet by Odetta was haunting, but still genius.
    The thing I liked most about the movie was that the viewer was able to identify with the thought process of Dylan. You were able to personally feel what he felt. I was very proud of the fact that Dylan didn't care what critics thought. He did his own thing. He didn't 'turn his back' on anything. He simply evolved. The roots were still there. It may be true that as an entertainer, keeping the audience amused or 'entertained' is important, but if it means compromising your own wishes and your own amusement, then you've lost your rights to perform....more info
  • Awesome Retrospective for Dylan Fans - New & Old Alike
    Bought this as a gift for my Dylan-obsessed brother and ended up with three generations becoming devotees after watching it. What a great retrospective - and long! Definitely delivers ... ...more info
  • Bob Dylan, No Direction Home
    I have watched this DVD 3 times since I bought it and still find something new and interesting each time I watch it. Bob Dylan's life and work are incredible, and this documentary shows an important time in history, both musically and politically. This doesn't white wash or make Dylan look like something he is not, and that he never was - he is not a God, a Saint or a Hero, rather Dylan was and is a brillant, observant and complicated artist. I highly recommend this DVD;I only wish I'd bought the DVD verison with the book inside.......more info
  • Item received damaged
    I received this item BRAND NEW for Christmas and the tabby things that hold the DVD in place are broken. I'm going to try to get a new, undamaged copy, but we shall see.......more info
  • I Am Not Even A Big Dylan Fan
    I like Bob Dylan's music somewhat, but I would be far from being a real fan. I also understand his general place in pop culture and the history of music. So I decided to watch this.

    I am so happy I did, it is an incredible movie down by Scorsese. Many things I did not know (though fans may have already known) and it was put together beautifully.

    An engaging look at the man and the legend surrounding him during a time I did not know much about.

    Highly recommended for any music fan....more info
  • The Ultimate Dylan
    Great substance, wonderful direction, and you can just feel a closeness
    with Mr Dylan that no other project comes close to....more info
  • Incredible
    I was incredibly pleased by this documentary, and being 26 and at the younger end of Bob Dylan's fan base, I didn't really have a context to put his earlier music into. I'm a big Dylan fan, but it was all my parent's time, not mine.

    Watching "No Direction Home" for me made it much more personal, and gave it an incredible depth. It gave me the ability to personally connect to the music, even though I am far removed from it. The performances were great, the interviews enlightening, and I saw in Bob Dylan everything I had hoped.

    Truly a timeless documentary, and definetly worth the time whether your into Folk music history, Bob Dylan history, or even just period history. If anyone was an icon of the times, whether he wanted it or not, it was Bob Dylan... ...more info
  • Just One More Reason To Shop Amazon
    Another great purchase: My son had come home from a friend's house in the beach area.
    He an a friend of mine drove to 3 stores searching for this dvd and came up empty.
    I suggested that we try Amazon: there it was and in less than a week it was in our friends mailbox and in perfect condition. It was an Amazon item as apposed to another vendor. It's very rare to have any difficulties shopping on Amazon.
    Thank you again. ...more info
  • New Dylan Desciple
    I thought I knew about Dylan but this DVD proved otherwise. I watched it many times and bought copies for friends and family. I am grateful for this series and hope they continue to produce docu's like this....more info
  • Interesting and Informative
    I only ever knew a few of his songs but knew little about him or his actual impact on music in america and the world back in the 60's. Very talented man and some great music too. ...more info
  • Dylan
    This is an outstanding documentary of America's pre-eminent artist, poet and social commentator of the last half century. Scorsese does a fabulous job of stitching together old film and recordings to tell this tell. The contrast in between the young Dylan responding to the press and Dylan today reflecting on his early days provides great insight into the Dylan's thinking and motivation.

    This is a powerful piece and should viewed by all, whether a Dylan fan or not....more info
  • What a great film
    I loved this movie! So much information, put together in such an interesting way. Martin Scorsese really gathered, and made, the perfect footage to tell about Bob Dylan's amazing life. And Dylan is a great interviewee. I was so entertained, I am just glad that it had two parts....more info
  • A time capsule!
    I first saw this movie as two part "fund raiser" special on PBS. Having grown up in NY in the early sixties this wonderful movie by Scorsese really brought back a flood of memories I didn't even know I had of that period.
    While this movie is shot in a documentary form it flows effortlessly through Dylan's formative and (I think) most creative years. The mix of performances and following Dylan and his entourage are masterfully done. The interviews with an older weary Dylan and his contemporaries are so insightful: Dave Van Ronk, Allen Ginsberg, Maria Muldaur and of course the incomparable Joan Baez who still seems to have such a soft spot for Bob and his genius.
    If you're even remotely interested in Dylan and the music of that era this is a must have DVD for your collection. Kudos go to Scorsese for whom this was clearly a labor of love.
    The times they have changed...we just don't have music with this power any more....more info
  • "We're all Woody's children"
    I first saw this documentary on my local PBS station when I was in the hospital. The first thing I did when I got home was order this DVD. I still watch it frequently because there are so many subtleties that you need to see it again and again to appreciate what a truly masterful piece of work that Scorsese made here. My musical preferences were forged during the 50's and 60's folk revival era. Perhaps the most important new figure to have arrived during that time was Bob Dylan. This DVD paints a rare portrait using tones and settings that are indescribably effective. For instance, while riding on a train to who-knows-where, Tony Glover tells of how Dylan came back to Minnesota from NYC able to pick and play the harmonica as if he had made a deal with the devil at the crossroads. Dylan jokingly corroborates the story. And, Liam Clancy relates his Dylan anecdotes over a pint of Guiness at a bar where a mural of a very shocked looking visage of Dylan Thomas presides. Rare performances and very early recordings punctuate this most riveting documentary.

    Pete Seeger referred to the folk performers of that day as all being "Woody's children." In this documentary, Scorsese has put together a very fine family reunion


    ...more info
  • Great Documentary, but beware...
    This documentary was fantastic. I have no qualms with it. Rather, my problem lies with the extra DVD of 'performances.' I thought, when I bought it, that I'd be able to watch entire filmed performances. This is not the case - the 'performances' are simply the same clips from the documentary, not full performances. So, this is false advertising. Beware....more info
  • For Dylan Fans only
    This is not enjoyable reading for just anyone; but I bought it as a gift and it was VERY well received ... by a Dylan Fan....more info
  • No Direction Home
    Director Scorsese's masterful portrait of poet/musician Bob Dylan's rise, leading up to the serious 1966 motorcycle accident that signaled a prolonged hiatus from touring. Intimate film makes it evident that Dylan would have taken a break from public performances anyhow, as his mid-sixties tour in England was met with hostility every time the singer picked up an electric guitar, further straying from his sacred folk roots. Fascinating sixties time capsule, and revealing meditation on artistic integrity and the nature of fame....more info
  • A Portrait of the Artist as An Angry Young Man
    In "No Direction Home", Martin Scorsese gives us a rare look at Bob Dylan's pivotal and volatile evolution from a Woody Guthrie copycat to arguably the single most important solo artist in rock history. And he does so with enigmatic clips of the man himself, old and withered, looking back on a time when everything changed not only for himself but for the world of pop music at large.

    The film, which uses Dylan's 1966 British tour as a frame of reference, looks at Dylan's beginnings in the cold wilds of Minnesota, his move to New York and rise to fame in the folk circles, and the moment that he "plugged in" and revolutionized music forever. Through it all, there is the music, which really gets a better treatment than in most "musician bios". After all, it's the music that made Dylan a landmark cultural icon, and coupled with the various images he adopted over the course of the years (here seen first as a Guthrie acolyte, then a roving folkie, and finally a stoned-out rock god), it is a fitting testament to his aura and appeal.

    Much like "The Beatles Anthology" some ten years ago, "No Direction Home" uses archival footage and modern interviews blended together to present a seamless look at what was, and what is. Scorsese narrows his focus to the years of 1958 to 1966, during Dylan's groundbreaking debut and transformation from the darling of the folk scene to something much more. He intersperses accounts from contemporaries like Dave Van Ronk, Joan Baez, and Allen Ginsburg with footage of Dylan's performances to make a compelling portrait of an American enigma.

    That being said, you won't come away from the movie feeling as if you "know" Bob Dylan. Such would be impossible, because in some ways it is his mysterious aura that keeps him in the public eye. But whatever you may feel is lacking in your knowledge of the man, you will come to understand the drive behind his music all that much more.

    When Dylan first appeared, of course, he was taken up as the second coming of his idol, Woody Guthrie. As he relates in the film, Dylan became disenchanted with the movement and soon began looking for ways out of what he considered a barrier on his artistic growth. What you come away with is the sense not only of how he felt about his transformation to a rock sound, but also how his peers in the folk scene (many of whom praised his early work) felt and why both sides had a right to do so.

    Bob Dylan's life and work will always be a source of endless fascination for those continuing generations that discover him. In "No Direction Home", Martin Scorsese has given the world a fine look into his most revolutionary period, a time that saw him rise from the Boy-King of the New York folk scene to a pop icon with a poetic license unlike the groups that came before him. And in the middle of the film, Dylan shares the great secret of what fueled all these changes: "A real artist is never satisfied with what he's doing. Once you get comfortable, that's when you die artistically" (or words to that effect).

    And that, in the end, is the message to take away from "No Direction Home", quite possibly the finest musical biography committed to celuloid. It's a must not just for Dylan fans, but for anyone seeking to make a living as an artist. When you have a guide like Bob Dylan to lead the way, it will always be interesting....more info
  • How Does It Feel, Bob?
    Bob Dylan has always seemed the kind of musician I should have been into (intelligent lyrics, etc), yet for some reason I never have been able to find a way to get into his music. This is probably going to sound silly to Dylan fans, but I was put off by everything from not knowing which album to buy first, struggling to understand what Bob was saying. It just all seemed a very different world to mine. Well, after this DVD "No Direction Home", compiled by Martin Scorsese, I'm rather turned around on the subject. I've gotten some context, I GET it now!

    By way of original concert footage, TV spots and present day interviews from many people including Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg and even Bob Dylan himself, we see over two discs the rise of Dylan's career, disc one covering his early life and influences up to about 1963, the second disc covering 1963 to just after Dylan's infamous motorcycle crash in 1966. It's done pretty straightforward, though there is the occaisonal arty directional flourish put in by Martin Scorsese (silence after the motorcycle crash, beginning the documentary in silence, as if there was no music before Dylan, etc). It's not strictly chronological, the documentary will often cut to 1966, where people will be booing Dylan for having a band and going electric. Though I usually like my stories and documentaries pretty chronological, I thought the flashing back and forth added to "No Direction Home". It reminded you what was going to happen, compared the folk versions of Dylan songs to some of the electric renditions, provided some contrast, showed what the shock must have been to the audience back then.

    I'd always heard about this infamous change, and had never really understood what the big deal is. After seeing this documentary, I understand why it was such a big deal to some fans, who saw Dylan as a folk purist, as a national conscience, etc. I also see why it wasn't such a big deal to Dylan. He had always been into rock'n'roll, even when he was growing up. He'd had an electric guitar back then, even.

    I know a lot of things now that I've seen this documentary. I know that Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash not only met, but sung a song together. I know why, in the 1960s, so many bands did covers of Dylan's songs. I now know more about Allen Ginsberg and his scene. It's great to have a documentary where you come away with a heap more than what you expected. Then again, it is a rather lengthy documentary.

    Special features include a selection of performances used in the film that can be watched seperately, plus a few performances that are not. They date from 1963 to 1966. As a casual listener, I was pleased to find some footage of "Positively 4th Street" being performed, as it's a song I quite like.

    I'd recommend this DVD to anyone interested at all in Bob Dylan. It'd be a good place for newcomers to start, I think, it definitely was for me. I don't think I've seen a music documentary this interesting since the Beatles Anthology. I'll be picking up an album of Bob's pretty soon, I'm sure.
    ...more info
  • Hey Mr. Revolution Man sing a song for me
    Bob Dylan sings about us. He lets us in on his childhood to struggle to learn styles to a break at Columbia Records and his instant fame which was not an instant at all.

    He sings about individuals. He lets us know as he used to do the rounds of Cafes at New York's Village where he decided to strike a chord with at least one listener. Aiming to target his audience out, he further enhanced his skills and style learning as much in 2 months in the Village as someone may learn in a lifetime of playing music.

    If Dylan sold his dirt I would buy it. I am that obsessed with his persona and music.

    This documentary does a great job and bringing us his roots. Incredible footage of not just Dylan but that of those artists who inspired him to be what he is. Most of all his love of Woody Gunthrie's music. He grew up from a small town nobody to a National and International sensation.

    A man with his voice at that time couldn't even make a buck, while Dylan with his choice of words and topics revolutionised the entire Music Industry.

    Country music or mainstream - he is a Rock Star like no other.

    Still counting he is publishing more records and setting new standards. Martin Scorcese lets us visit the humble star who talk candidly about his meetings, performances, influences and success. Truly magical world revealed here as we see how from Jack Kerouac's On the Road to a book on Woody Gunthrie feels like home to the teenage Dylan.

    A world of misfits and he fits at ease in it. Thinking what others can't dream of, he merges and weaves and intertwines styles and stories to make an incredible form of music with unmatched pace.

    This is true homage to the legend that is Bob Dylan.

    Thank You "whomever it may concern" for this documentary....more info
  • Dylan Fans Must
    If you are a Bob Dylan fan don't miss "No Direction Home." Martin Scorsese does even a better job than he did with "The Last Waltz" about The Band. Even if you're not a Dylan fan I think you'll like it....more info
  • Worth seeing more than once for sure.
    I am not a Bob Dylan fan but this dvd is so interesting and insightful that you can't help but be a fan after watching it and to then share it with others. It is also just a nice movie to play to hear the music of not only his but other passionate musicians. ...more info
  • Martin Scorsese as Musical Historian
    every now and then on a quite night i pull out this 2 disc DVD set again and enjoy watching the beginnings of a young musical poet and can't help comparing to where he is now and the friends he left on the road. some of the interviewees have passed away before or after the release of the film/dvd. Dave van Ronk never had a chance to see it and his book "The Governor of MacDougal" was posthumously released. Harald Leventhal died just days after i bought the DVDs. Maria Muldaur, meanwhile, has released Bob Dylan's "Moonlight" on her album "Love Wants To Dance" and on her album "Heart of Mine" which she produced and belongs to the Dylan Cover Songs category.

    Interesting is also the list of record sleeves shown in the film about how often the song "Blowin' In The Wind" had already been covered in the early 60s, a song of which i in my youth always thought was a traditional song.

    every movie for me has favorite and not so favorite scenes, but my most favorite scene in this film is where Maria Muldaur explains after the "Newport Folk Festival" event that she saw him sitting there alone in the corner and she went up to him asking if he'd like to dance and Bob Dylan replied "I'd love to dance with you, Maria, but my hands are of fire." i guess that's THE statement in the movie ... well, at least for me.

    JohPWilbrand...more info
  • Outstanding
    This may be the best documentary about the legendary Bob Dylan narrated by him and those who knew him. From his fateful journey in search of Woody Guthrie to his rise to stardom to his fall from his fans' graces, this film is a non-stop joy ride into what the 1960's was for Bob Dylan. I have always felt that Martin Scorsese was brilliant with his use of music in his films, and this film is no different. Not only does it include many Dylan songs and performances, it is also packed with performances by many of Dylan's friends and influences including Joan Baez, Woodie Guthrie, Rhetta, Pete Seagar, Peter Paul and Mary, and any number of other figures. In short this film is fantastic from start to finish. ...more info
  • Are All Documentaries Mere Propaganda?
    Way back in high school, I had a History teacher, Mr. Bailey, whose pet peeve was documentaries. He said that although the most interesting documentaries cover subjects that are controversial that there really isn't any such thing as objective reporting since bias is unavoidable and inevitable. He said further that you can usually determine the prejudice of the filmmaker within seconds of the start.
    I think of this argument whenever I watch a documentary and found it to be generally true with a few notable exceptions. There is for example a film called, `Jesus Camp' that has no introduction, conclusions, or incidental music in the movie with the effect that, if you read the customer reviews, you will see that there are some five star reviews that are glad to see it as an expose' of the Christian brainwash society and other five star reviewers who see it as a celebration of the Lord. If there is a disagreement among viewers about the conclusions a film draws then it usually follows the bias of the filmmaker. For example, in this film, No Direction Home, some see it as the best Dylan documentary ever and some disagree, depending upon what you think of the last 44 years of Dylan's career. If you believe that his talent died with his abandonment of the folk music scene, then you may think this is the best Dylan documentary ever.
    I have watched this film many times and I enjoy it every time, but there are two other things that, in my opinion, keep this film from being the greatest Dylan documentary. First is the editing. Chronological order is essential in objective biographical documentaries since that is how we all live, trapped in a timeline. Flashbacks and reveries may be good dramatic devices in works of fiction that imply an autobiographical illusion, but events transpire as they transpire and when unfolding a factual report or a documentary, inclusion of dreams and fantasies about how things could have been drags the work down into the world of opinionated emotional propaganda. Mr. Scorsese had the good fortune to have Mr. Dylan (and others) sit in front of the camera and talk about the phenomenon of his personal career starting in 1961, and Mr Scorsese tastefully and professionally interspersed that interview into the new and previously unseen fascinating historical footage of those long past times talked about. But for some amateurish reason he continually interrupts his documentary with footage from Bob Dylan's 1966 tour wherein so-called fans jeered and booed him on stage for performing with an electric rock band. This jarring and distracting footage continues spontaneously interrupting throughout the documentary implying some sort of ultimate climax as the unfolding chronological events in the story move closer to that moment, but the only thing that happens when the documentary eventually reaches that point is that the documentary itself abruptly ends, and that brings me to the second point of what holds this movie back, premature ejection.
    Dylan's decision in 1965 to abandon the den of dusty beatniks and yesterday's folk songs marked not only the end of the road for fans of that genre but `No Direction Home' implies that that was the end of Dylan and that there isn't any story worth relating past that point. It was by no means the end of Dylan's genius nor of his career which continues today, forty-four years later. Mr. Scorsese apparently was one of those who never wanted Dylan to `go electric' since that is where his documentary stops, in 1966, with Dylan on stage amidst the sea of hecklers. I have bought every one of Dylan's records from 1963 to today. Some were disappointing but all were interesting in some way or another.
    Where is the rest of the story of Dylan's brilliance that spans from Blonde On Blonde 1966 to Modern Times 2006 and beyond? The end? I don't think so....more info
  • Excellent!
    Wonderful biopic of Dylan in the early days, Joan Baez, and all the other hangers-on.
    Definitely a must see for the afficianado....more info
  • Great documentary!
    I found "No Direction Home" an entertaining document chock full of old footage and photographs of the era of Folk music in NYC. I found the interviews with the Bob Dylan of today intriguing and found what he said to be insightful, rather than full of cryptic messages in his old interviews. I do wish, that it would have continued on with more current years as that's of interest to me as well....more info
  • No need to be a "fan" to find something to like here
    So much archival footage and interviews with folkies, beatniks, poets, singers, you name it - this dvd has it all- very extensive. I am not a major Dylan fan -but you have to dig this pixie who roils the waters - Liam Clancy put it best when he said that Bob Dylan was a 'shape changer" in the tradition of Irish mythology- "they change voices, they change faces"- and that's what Bob Dylan was guilty of .You don't have to embrace "Bobby" as a saviour to like him or this DVD - you can take what you like and leave the rest behind. that's what I did and I didn't have to leave much- ...more info
  • A Masterpiece
    Scorcese hits a home run with this Dylan documentary. I can watch this over and over and over again. It's phenomenal....more info
  • One of the best looks at Bob Dylan's career....
    I am always a fan of Martin Scorcese films, he manages to bring a new style to each and everyone he does, and "No Direction Home" is another instant hit. The movie focusses on Dylan's life itself, not just his music career. It shows a lot of interviews with different people who knew Bob Dylan or just knew his music. I was captivated with how the movie managed to just flow freely and was surprised when it ended because if seemed like it had only just begun. This is one film you should definately see.

    The film focusses on Bob Dylan's childhood; from growing up in a town in Minnesota, and how he managed to start singing and playing music in small coffe houses and even festivals. What was great about this film is all the new footage that was aired in it. We see still photography shots of Dylan as a young man, playing with a guitar or his harmonica in front of a crowd of people. There is old footage of concerts, interviews, and press conferences that many people probably wouldn't have seen back then, or even now.

    Interviews include people such as; Izzy Young, Paul Nelson, Al Kooper, Allen Ginsberg, and many others. But probably the greatest interviewee of them all is Bob Dylan himself. He talks about everything! Growing up, his first musical performance, he even talks about other great musical artists, my favorite of them being Johnny Cash. Some great footage in this film.

    Extras include:

    Bob Dylan Performances:

    No Direction Home
    Blowin' in the Wind
    Mr. Tambourine Man
    Man of Constant Sorrow
    Girl of the North Country
    Love Minus Zero/No Limit
    One Too Many Mornings

    Plus More!

    This is one fantastic look at Bob Dylan. If you are any sort of fan of him or his music, watch this DVD and you will not be disappointed!

    Highly Recommended...more info
  • Classic Bob Dylan
    The first time I watched this DVD, I was mesmerized. It was so intriging to see Dylan in concert and in real life. It is raw and it is real. What a unique character he is and was. It was interesting to hear Bob speak now about his life back in the the 60's. He has mellowed so much, but still maintains his unique personality....more info
  • Bob Dylan - No Way Home
    There is no queation; Bob Dylan is The Man and this hasn't changed for over 40 years. With him as the subject and Scorsese directing, the result is an incredible experience. For even marginal Dylan fans, this is a must have for your DVD collection....more info
  • Fascinating
    "All my songs are protest songs."
    -Bob Dylan

    "I've never written a political song. Songs can't save the world."
    -Bob Dylan

    Throughout Martin Scorsese's two-hundred minute documentary we get to see Bob Dylan squirm under a barage of journalist questions. Several times he just asks the questions right back at them, and at one point starts snapping pictures of the photographers themselves. Dylan is portrayed as a chameleon, refusing to be a spokesman for the left or put on a pedestal by the folk movement. The closer Scorsese gets to his subject the blurrier he becomes.

    The story of Dylan is framed nicely within the turbulent times his music came about. When pictures of Dylan's sleepy Midwest town is flashed across the screen it's apparent that the straight laced conformity was indicative of the nation as a whole.

    No sooner are we are introduced to the restless kid who enrolled in college but never went to any classes, then we see him skirt to New York where he is rumoured to have followed in the footsteps of the old bluesmen, and sells his soul to the devil. Shortly after, his mediocre playing is transformed into confident musicianship.

    During the times Dylan is in New York you can almost feel the pressure that was building in America. This is also the time where he probably gained a political consciousness that he would later accept or deny depending on how he felt, or maybe on who was asking.

    The majority of the concert footage contains booing and heckling from the crowd. I had always heard about the controversy concerning Dylan "plugging in," but it is something else to actually witness it.

    This documentary has a long running time, but it never dragged. I was constanty intrigued, and always engaged. No Direction Home is richly layered and deals with a lot more than just Bob Dylan -- I'm sure I don't understand half of it. Scorsese show us a scene of Andy Warhol and Dylan right before he cuts to some British fans deriding the new Dylan music as "pop." As is the case with any Scorsese movie, it is about a lot more than what's up on the screen. In some way No Direction Home is about the changing art of the sixties. It was this decade that modernism started to visibly give way to the post-modern movement, and that's represented here as Dylan claims his music is a collage of influences.

    The relation between Dylan and his music also intrigued me. The Beats and many of these folk musicians viewed art as a truthful unveiling. Much of this film will have you wondering if Dylan's music concealed as much as it revealed. The idea of an artistic "Truth" is chipped away at, and instead Dylan lets little "truths" slip out of his art. There is an act going on whenever Dylan writes a song, and especially when he performs a song. At times it is almost as if he is creating a personality out of bits of images and sounds he finds in the world, and then puts them together to create something fresh.

    The film manages to deal with multiple themes without losing sight of its subject. In fact, it is precisely because the film deals with so much that it didn't lose my interest despite its length. Scorsese has shown us one of America's great artist, and in the process proves that he also belongs in that category.

    ...more info
  • Masterful portrait of the man who is mercury...
    ...Meaning you can't easily pin him down. Yet between Scorsese's excellent documentary & Dylan's own Chronciles (Vol.1) this is as close a revealing display of 'who'/'what' Dylan is, and how that means different things to everyone interested in him and his art. I think the film brilliantly explores the facts, myths, contrivances, and oh yeah, impact the man's music and the path it cut through American culture and beyond. His impact IS so immense that it's easy to forget that he's just a man with a guitar/piano, a pen/typewriter, scraps of paper and cigarettes who has somehow been able to filter the complexities of humanity - be it love, anger, fear, outrage, compassion, sarcasm, loneliness, hope and humor via deceptively simple music and incredible poetry. He is a mirror, but not always the reflection of that mirror. As he sang in 'The Man in Me' (New Morning) "The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein' seen/But that's just because he doesn't want to turn into some machine". Still, Dylan is always an open book to anyone - whether or not you are of his generation, ignored him at the time this film explores, were born after this era (I was born in early 1968 in Rochester - a day's drive from his base at the time) or you have only recently discovered him. That is a hallmark of great art and a great artist - there's always something different you find everytime you tap into it.

    Scorsese's research into his subject is excellent - from interviews (starting with Dylan himself) to contemporaries both alive and gone (Ginsberg, Van Ronk), thoughtfully plucked film footage including from 'Eat The Document'(including some outtakes(?)) not surprising since Scorsese as a young man edited both Pennebaker's film of the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967 and the documentary of Woodstock. There are many revealing moments, too numerous to list here and many more questions raised about the relevence of the artist to late-twentieth century, cold-war era culture.

    The pace is perfect, the threads many and artfully woven together. And stands up well to repeated viewing as a result. However, I take one star away because a discussion/exploration of the apex of his gradually frenzied pace and output - 'Blonde On Blonde' is *completely* omitted. I'm still scratching my head about that one. The record that best illustrates the genius and contradictions of the end of the era the film look at isn't even given a passing mention! Why? Not particularly interested? Had to cut any segment on it out to make the original TV broadcast time limit? Having said that, this is my sole disappointment with what otherwise is a fruitful and fascinating attempt to nail down the droplet of genius that was/is Robert Allen Zimmerman/Bob Dylan....more info
  • Astounding.
    I am certainly "running hot" in terms of documentary selection as it seems like every time I find one which is superlative another comes along and outperforms it. No Direction Home makes one contemplate a great many things. Perhaps the most immediate is the idea that there is nothing in this world that Martin Scorsese cannot do better than his peers. We don't think of the eminent director's name being associated with documentary, but he advances this genre in the same fashion he did short film with his forty-some-minute work, Life Lessons, within New York Stories. Here he accomplishes the impossible as viewers finally are exposed to the man Bob Dylan as opposed to the idol. Unfortunately, the results are fairly jarring. I'm always worshipped Bob but my opinion of him was definitely lowered by this portrait comprised of interviews with the artist and those who knew him "back in the day." On the positive side, we again, just as in Don't Look Back, see firsthand evidence of his genius and how so much of what he did could not have been done by anyone else. His production during this brief moment of time was amazing. As a person though, we find him to be ruthlessly ambitious and opportunistic. Bob Zimmerman was on a mission to make it one way or another and nothing was going to stop him...and nothing did. The most disheartening element in this depiction is the lack of honor he showcased. He appears to have stolen a few hundred records from an old friend, and, even when confronted, refused to give them back. It is implied that he never, even when worth tens of millions, made good on this debt. This is unfortunate but probably reflective of the way in which young Dylan used and discarded others. Relationships seemed to be a means to end and never an end in them self. Joan Baez's observations support this as well. To please her, he merely had to invite her upon stage with him in London, but this was asking too much from a man about to become king. Yet, in the final analysis, he is a king and the person of the artist is always subsidiary to the works produced--at least in the minds of fans like this reviewer who will always love Dylan no matter what he does or says. ...more info
  • Best Documentary I've seen
    This was not just a 2 DVD set focusing on Bob Dylan. This was an overview of the music that shaped his life and music. They cover many different sounds and genres, and show how it affected Dylan's changing sound throughout the years.

    Don't expect a 2 hour concert of Dylan. Expect something amazing, a musical history lesson....more info
  • A Real Treasure
    This documentary blew my socks off... it is everything I'd hoped it would be and more. I have been an avid Dylan fan for 40-some years. 'No Direction Home' is an insightful treasure. I was thrilled with Dylan's own reflections, musings and memories throughout. Equally endearing to me is his apparent self-consciousness and humility in his commentaries... his subtle sense of humor is delightful. I was quite impressed by his down to earth, genuine demeanor. Though larger than life, he is a very human man who differs from most of us largely in his courage and persistence in relentlessly pursuing an unknown "direction home"...

    I truly enjoyed the stories of Liam Clancy, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and so many others who have known Dylan from the beginning of his career. The plethora of rare old film footage was definitely a bonus. The chronicle of his early Britain tour seemed to expose a vulnerability in the young Dylan that I had never seen before. I found this to be quite poignant.

    (This has no particular bearing on the film, but... I was taken aback at the end of the 2nd DVD, about half way through the credits, by Dylan's "Lay Down Your Weary Tune", sung from beginning to end. This song has been running through my head since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. The lyrics are especially powerful to me, and this ended my experience on a sweetly emotional note.)

    I highly recommend this DVD set for everyone who is interested in the evolution of music and Bob Dylan's essential role in that evolution. Kudos to Martin Scorsese for doing this powerful film... a true work of art. It left me wanting more... I hope Mr. Scorsese will pick up where he left off in a future documentary... there are so many more years to cover. Oh, and Mr. Dylan, I do hope you returned those Woodie Guthrie records you "borrowed"! ...more info
  • Bob Dylan as we have never seen him before
    Every so often something comes out that is extraordinary.
    Martin Scorsese took the time to put together a documentary of possibly the finest writer of the 20th Century.
    This shows Dylan from his growing up years in Hibbing Minnesota to his coffee house years in Greenwich Village.
    For any Dylan fan this documentary is a must. It goes into his rise in detail and has unreleased footage of several performances. Among the performances are This Land is Your Land, which shows Dylan paying tribute to Woody Guthrie.
    You also hear a rare recording of Song to Woody from his very first album. You hear a Demo of his classic, Dont Think Twice Its Alright. This recording pre-dates the version from the Freewheelin Bob Dylan. The lyrics are the same as the way Peter, Paul and Mary recorded them on their album.
    Masters of War is live and sounds like the version on the album.
    I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow is certainly worth the listen..
    When the Ship Comes in and Mr Tambourine Man are also very well done.
    The version of Blowin in the Wind is a disappointment.
    The second CD is loaded with electric tunes he later did.
    Dylan himself is interviewed as well as contemporarites such as Joan Baez and others who knew him at the time.
    Dylan has always been a very private individual so we finally see the man for what he really is, and what he meant to America in the 60's
    I would not only recommend this to Dylan fans but to any historian who wants to know about Bob Dylan.
    Martin Scorsese as he did with his blues series has really put a gem together...more info

 

 
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