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220 of 233 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Dylan documentary ever
Found this at The Rogovoy Report (He is a cultural critic for WAMC Northeast Public Radio)

I've seen the complete No Direction Home Martin Scorsese documentary, upcoming on American Masters on PBS in a couple of weeks (9/26-27), and it's really great. I didn't realize that it includes extensive new interview footage with Bob Dylan himself, appearing in his most...
Published on September 13, 2005 by David

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Film
A pretty good account of Bob Dylan's life by Martin Scorcese. I thought it was pretty interesting. I especially like the live performance of Like A Rolling Stone.
Published 2 months ago by Victor M. Dasilva II


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220 of 233 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Dylan documentary ever, September 13, 2005
By 
David (Sharon, CT, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (DVD)
Found this at The Rogovoy Report (He is a cultural critic for WAMC Northeast Public Radio)

I've seen the complete No Direction Home Martin Scorsese documentary, upcoming on American Masters on PBS in a couple of weeks (9/26-27), and it's really great. I didn't realize that it includes extensive new interview footage with Bob Dylan himself, appearing in his most straightforward, seemingly normal role EVER -- even more than on the 60 Minutes interview with Ed Bradley -- normal enough almost to take him at his word on his extensive comments on particular songs, his background, incidents in his career, etc.

The film includes terrific interviews with dozens of key figures from Dylan's life and career, including Izzy Young, Harold Leventhal, Joan Baez, Paul Nelson, Bob Neuwirth, Al Kooper, Bruce Langhorne, Pete Seeger, Mark Spoelstra, Suze Rotolo , and fortunately, Allen Ginsberg and Dave Van Ronk when both of them were still around.

The film also includes a tremendous amount of vintage film clips, concert footage, and still photography, a lot of which I've never seen before -- and I think I have had access to most if not all of the unofficial stuff circulating from that era. It even includes footage from postwar Hibbing, as well as early recordings (some of which of course are reflected in the companion CD "soundtrack"). It includes a lot of Newport Folk festivals and "Eat the Document" era concert and incidental footage in the best quality I've ever seen or heard any of it, and a lot that I don't think was included in the original ETD.

The home DVD version also includes extensive full-song versions of concert songs that will not be screened on TV.

More important than all these parts, the sum total is a fascinating "interpretation" of how Robert Allen Zimmerman became Bob Dylan up through and including summer 1966, weaved subtly by master filmmaker Scorsese simply through vintage clips, interviews, and really smart editing. The way Scorsese handles the combination of interviews and songs reminds me of The Last Waltz, but he does an even better, more subtle (and more complex) job here.

I think it's as valuable a document that has ever been made about Bob Dylan -- as valuable as any book or biography, including Chronicles itself.

Now, if only Scorsese spent equal time and effort on 1966-2006, but I imagine that's not likely to happen.....

I've gotten some feedback already that Scorsese didn't originate this project and had nothing to do with the original footage, but of course that doesn't matter -- the point is he and/or his team organized it in a way that makes it a coherent narrative, and one with a particular point of view that has the imprimatur of Bob Dylan himself. For those who take issue with that, I suggest, as Dylan himself said all those years ago, eat the document.
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201 of 219 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not my review, but that of a UK viewer, September 9, 2005
This review is from: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (DVD)
I was very frustrated by the lack of credible reviews, so I hunted down a review from the UK Observer newspaper:

"Bob Dylan is a private man who is notoriously camera shy. The TV interview he gave around the publication of his autobiography, Chronicles, last year was his first in two decades, so there was some surprise when Martin Scorsese announced he was making the definitive TV biopic with the man's full co-operation. It seems that in his sixties, Dylan - who has spent so much of his career laying false trails and telling downright lies about himself - has decided it's time to set the record straight and get his version of his life and times on the record, both in print and on film. And Scorsese, who directed The Last Waltz, the 1977 film about Dylan's former backing group, the Band, was the obvious man to do it.

Almost four hours long, No Direction Home deals only with the early part of Dylan's career, ending in 1966 and the tumultuous world tour on which he was booed by folk purists unable to accept his new-found rock'n'roll ways. It airs on BBC2 next month and is a riveting piece of film-making that draws on wonderful contemporary footage, much of it previously unseen, as well as revelatory new interviews. Scorsese and his team also turned up a treasure trove of unreleased music, which constitutes the latest volume in the 'official bootleg series' Dylan launched in 1991 to combat the pirates who have conferred on him the dubious honour of being the most bootlegged artist in history."
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets, September 21, 2005
This review is from: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (DVD)
When you get to the end, you want to start all over again. That's the No. 1 reason to own the DVD version of Martin Scorsese's "No Direction Home." Coming from a project so awash in audio and video treasures, it seems odd that the only meaningful extras are complete versions of Dylan numbers trimmed in the documentary. That said, there are some great performances in the extras -- for example, the 8-minute version of "Like a Rolling Stone" with the band that became the Band.

The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio achieves reference quality. Images are TV-friendly full screen, with pleasing grays and medium contrasts. The video texture is amazingly consistent given the Babylon of sources.

The film's subtitle should be something like "Bob Dylan, 1960-65." Dylan acts as his own witness throughout -- at ease, clear, sometimes funny and seemingly pleased to take control of his legend. "I don't feel like I had a past," Dylan says, but the assembled evidence proves otherwise. Part 1 unspools much like a video companion to Dylan's vastly entertaining biography "Chronicles, Volume One," which covers his years on the Greenwich Village folk scene, the epicenter of American hip in the early 1960s.

"No Direction Home" becomes A Film By Martin Scorsese in its dark concluding act. Like "Mean Streets" and "GoodFellas," it captures the paranoia and disintegration as the central character's life implodes. The artist faced a far-flung confederacy of dunces, Scorsese shows us, over and over: moronic reporters, abusive audiences, uncomprehending music lovers, petulant folkies, teenagers who shrieked, fawned and grabbed. No one seems to have any sense except for Dylan and his in-crowd.

Dylan's songs play non-stop in that gorgeous DD audio, but there is little discussion, surprisingly, of the groundbreaking music he produced in the mid-'60s -- no recognition of the vast Baby Boom audience that heard the genius in his explorations and embraced them. No one testifies to the deep and immediate influence of "Highway 61 Revisited" on rock innovators up to and including John Lennon.

Still, it's easy and satisfying to buy into Scorsese's view of Dylan as underdog. The slant and subjectivity give "No Direction Home" much of its drama and depth, especially in the final hour. Bottom line: No one has made a better rock documentary.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan's being seen as an "enigma" said more about his audience, September 29, 2005
By 
This review is from: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (DVD)
Dylan is probably the premier American poet post-1960. His songs shimmer in a way that most songs do not but that poems can, and are boosted by his own performance of them, as the fine live selections picked for this film demonstrate. His oft-mocked drone is not in evidence early in his career, this film's focus.

Some reasons suggest themselves here about why Dylan met with such enthusiasm. He entered a folk scene by its very nature about people performing the work of other people, i.e. all those "folks" whose music was being rediscovered. So when Dylan began writing his own stuff, instead of just imitating Woody Guthrie, he automatically set himself beyond his peers.

This was an era when young people were musically starved. The pop scene was lean from 1958 - with departure of the first wave of original rockers variously to death, scandal or the Army - to the emergence of the Beatles in 1963. That's why a niche music like folk music could gain as much steam as it did. Dylan, writing with real lyrical power, got better notice at a time when his major competition included Fabian. His fans were the college crowd - people in college, just out of college, or about to go to college. But now, American college enrollments were exploding. If he'd been born 30 years earlier he probably would have been forced to work for a living. (Like all those folks folksingers sang about.)

Today's Dylan seems in the movie refreshingly void of BS, reflecting matter-of-factly upon his life and times. Much of the mystery attributed to him way back when, was bull to begin with, something he may very well have never sought or meant. Many parties were at fault:

--The fans who, worshipping him as an oracle, expected him to be oracular offstage, which he neither was nor wanted to be.

--The starstruck who parsed his every word and action for deeper meaning, like the one who presses him for the real message behind the shirt he's wearing on the cover of Highway 61 Revisited. (Dylan tries to answer him honestly - "hey, it's just what I was wearing that day, I didn't give it that much thought" - but the fan won't take that for an answer.)

--The reporters who would ask him whether he was the Voice of a Generation. How could anyone answer that kind of question? If he said yes or even no, he'd seem unbelievably vain. How would he know? Who picks the Voice of a Generation, and how do they let you know? The movie contains a great clip where a reporter asks sonorously how many real folksingers there are. Dylan says, "136." The reporter has no idea he's being put on, and presses Dylan on the number. Dylan then says, "142." Much of what Dylan said, deemed enigmatic by the wide-eyed, were just goofs told when no straight and sincere answer existed. This says more about the naivete of the public at that time than it does about him.

Alienated young intellectuals found deep meaning in the outrageous, ever-changing lies Dylan told about his past, whether he claimed to be a cowboy, carnie or whatever. They neglected the obvious: as a 20-year-old college kid from a proper, comfortable small-town, middle-class Jewish home, he didn't have much of a past. Hardly anyone does, at 20. And so, he was trying on personae, as young people will. Folkies uncritically ate it up because they themselves were naïve, credulous, middle-class college kids rejecting their own backgrounds by singing songs of sailors, miners, Oppressed Negroes and Irish revolutionaries - of those, in other words, from as far away as possible in space and time from Levittown.

Too fixated on his being the Voice of a Generation, the world failed to notice obvious reasons Dylan did what he did. He quit playing folk because the scene got old, and because he wasn't the Pope of the Folk Church of Idealists Struggling for the Oppressed. He was a songwriter who put truths into song as well as anyone ever did, but who was ultimately in the music business, something inexplicably deemed shameful by folkies. He moved to rock because it was popular - the masses actually preferred electrical guitars to acoustic ones - and because in its exploding musical possibilities circa 1965 it offered more creative room than three-chord folk did. He faked his motorcycle accident because the pressures of pop stardom became too much to bear. And because, in his late 20s, he really wanted a normal family life. His kids, quoted in a recent bio, say he was a pretty good dad.

His milieu couldn't bear to imagine that someone could make these choices - a career? a home life? kids? Quel horreur! - or that this shows how smart, normal and well-grounded Dylan actually was. He walked away from folk music because he got tired of being deemed the Voice of a Generation by teenage depressives and other naifs. And he walked away from the same rock star pressures that drive lesser celebrities to drugs or other self-destruction. Sounds pretty sane, and not really very enigmatic, to me.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Does It Feel, Bob?, August 1, 2006
This review is from: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (DVD)
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.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anyone can see he has the holy spirit in him, September 28, 2005
This review is from: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (DVD)
No one has mentioned this about the film - it really struck me that Dylan's writing seemed to be truly inspired, almost in a spiritual way. His long, wordy songs seemed to "channel the collective unconscious" as someone said - he seemed to be receiving messages from the people, or from the cosmos, or both. The scenes of him singing at the Newcastle gig made him look transcendent (or high - but if he was, he still managed to nail the songs, and that is a lot to remember.) I got the feeling that somehow these songs came through him in a way that was beyond his own control. Sure he was a person who cared about his reputation, but don't overlook, minimize or misunderstand (as some reviewers here have) the brilliance of the songwriting - the poetry - which first changed and then became part of our culture. The movie is incredibly interesting at a psychological and spiritual level.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Must Have" dvd, September 21, 2005
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This review is from: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (DVD)
I have to admit... I have never been a Dylan fan. I have enjoyed some of his songs and loved his lyrics, but he was never my #1 record choice. My husband, on the other hand, has always REALLY liked him. I rented this dvd for my husband.

Ten minutes into the dvd, I was hooked. Twenty minutes into the dvd, I got online and orderd one for us, one for my daughter in SF, and one for my 30 year old son. WHAT A TREASURE! I loved seeing the making of Dylan's career...I was intriqued with the passion he had for folk music, and the love and respect he had for all other music. Every note he heard was never wasted! He is an amazing man with a fasinating career. I am a Dylan fan now!

TRUST me ... this a dvd WORTH owning!!!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Real Deal, September 27, 2005
This review is from: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (DVD)
While watching Martin Scorcese's Dylan biopic, "No Direction Home," I kept wondering just what might have happened if all of the obsessed Dylan-philes from the early `60s had known all the facts as they are presented here. At the time of Dylan's fairly sudden rise to fame, he was surrounded by so many myths - many of them self-perpetuated - that the true Dylan fan of the time could only believe what he heard (or not). This naturally lent Dylan a mysterious aura that only made him more attractive to the fans who wanted to figure him out. More importantly, it also lent his writing that same aura of mystery, leaving every single person who came in contact with his words to apply their own interpretations, or scratch their heads in awe, wondering what all of it could possibly mean. This method of self-mythification worked brilliantly for Dylan, although it also backfired in some ways, especially when it led to people rifling through his garbage for clues, or assigning their own opinions and meanings to words that he did not intend. Nonetheless, it was fascinating to watch the contemporary Joan Baez explain (rather saucily) how Dylan would write some verse that even he considered mysterious, then show it to Joan Baez to ask her opinion. When she offered her own interpretations, Dylan was pleased, and commented that years from now, people would probably still be doing the exact same thing.

Watching the modern day Dylan remove much of the myth that surrounded his early days is perhaps the most fascinating element of this 2-part biography of Dylan's first foray into fame. His lucid explanations of how his thought process functioned back then would have been a Rosetta Stone for the obsessed Dylan fans, but I wonder if they would have believed what they heard, even if they knew that it came straight from Dylan's mouth. After all, they already sensed that he was `colorizing' aspects of his past and so might have considered the source untrustworthy, but more importantly, they probably didn't want to see the myth disturbed. The truth would have made everything so plebian. From today's perspective, though, the truth is just as fantastic as the myth.

Episode one of "No Direction Home" covers the time period from Dylan's youth in Hibbing, Minnesota to the fame following the release of his third album. A lot has been made of Dylan's constant reinvention, but few people concede that in the beginning, he reinvented himself with virtually every record. Here, Dylan himself makes it clear that the changes were a combination of deliberation and a reaction to the times. His first album was a quickly assembled hodgepodge of random influences, painting him as an adequate folk singer. The second album launched his career as a serious songwriter, with thought-provoking words and melodies that could be `beautified' by Peter, Paul and Mary or Trini Lopez. A rather telling (and amusing) moment occurs when a music publisher takes credit for making Dylan famous because he managed to distribute his songs among so many different artists. It's a ludicrous claim, but it has an element of truth to it, too, since middle-class America is unlikely to have accepted Dylan without middle-of-the-road artists softening the rougher edges of his own performance.

My only complaint here is with Scorcese's means of assembling some of the footage. Perhaps sensing that he would lose some of his audience if he didn't let us see some `electrified' Dylan, he continually cuts into the future, showing us footage of Dylan and the Band before a hostile English audience. The result is disconcerting, especially since it was usually irrelevant to the topic that was previously being discussed. I think it might have been ultimately more effective to watch Dylan evolve organically into his electrified phase, since it would probably better convey the shock and sense of betrayal felt by his older fans. Instead, it is confusing, especially for younger fans who wish to understand this very important phase of musical history, and it will almost certainly soften the sudden impact of the change when it is covered in part two of this biopic. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating assemblage of rare footage, myth debunking, and revisionist history that does not let go. I can't wait to see part two, and I only wish that Scorcese and Dylan would consider continuing their collaboration, all the way up to the present day. A Tom Ryan
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Perhaps The Best Documentary On Sixties Music Ever!, November 19, 2005
By 
Perry Celestino (Tahmoor, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (DVD)
Well, as a 56 year old, I grew up with Bob Dylan's music. I also lived in New York in the 1960s and spent many of my teenage weekends in Greenwich Village. This film brings back all those days magnificently. Martin Scorsese after his brilliant ode to the Blues in 2003 has done it again! This 4 hour journey is worth watching again and again. You see new things each time you watch it, a mark of a great filmmaker! It just screened on TV here in Australia last week, but the DVD has been available here for over a month.

My music interests are primarily a love for the Blues (see my reviews), but this film clearly puts the link between folk and blues together. My favourite parts of this DVD are the "Electric" folk Dylan performed with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Al Kooper (Blues Project, Blood, Sweat and Tears) and Mike Bloomfield. Films of Mike Bloomfield playing are exceedingly scarce (Monterrey, The Recent Blues Reunion DVD). Dylan unfolds the story of him meeting Bloomfield and asking him to help him go electric. They even show part of the set they did at Newport! You can hear but not see Mike! For the uninitiated, hear Mike on the PBBB East-West CD.

This film follows Bob Dylan through his early career in the 1960s until his motorcycle accident towards the end of the decade. It is a perfect time frame. It shows the social and cultural changes in America, how music was part of them and how they contributed to the outcomes. We who were young at this time remember these days well- Civil Right's, The Women's Movement and Vietnam! However, what I really love about Dylan in this film is that he shys away from any recognition for his contributions to these movements. Dylan is an enigma and that's always been part of his appeal.

I am a Blues fan and not an expert on Dylan or his music. I found this DVD surprisingly entertaining and very interesting. I loved the way Dylan comes off and a person who did but didn't want fame, the best line in the whole thing is "I just slipped in the door when nobody was looking and there wasn't anything anybody could do about it!" He also indicates, like John Lennon did, that his songs were written as clusters of words he liked or sounded good and not necessarily to make any social points. Which I always thought anyway. People read what they wanted to in his music. I do agree with a previous reviewer that the best performance is "Mr. Tambourine Man" at the Newport Topical Song Workshop, with Pete Seeger in the background. Great!

This film is an essential addition to anyone's collection.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan's a Riot, March 13, 2007
This review is from: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (DVD)
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"
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Bob Dylan - No Direction Home
Bob Dylan - No Direction Home by Bob Dylan (DVD - 2005)
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