Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - June 12, 2019, Winnipeg, ManitobaC M Y K PAGE C1
OB Dylan has spent his whole career
creating myths and personas to keep
fans and critics scratching their heads
So why should they be surprised a new film
from the Nobel Prize-winning, folk-singing
legend should continue leading them down the
Released today on Netflix (it also gets a small
cinematic release, not unlike Alfonso Cuarón’s
Roma in 2018), Dylan teams up with Oscar-
winning director Martin Scorsese for Rolling
Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story.
The film zooms back to 1975, a year after
Dylan’s successful return to the stage with a tour
of hockey arenas alongside his old cohorts, the
Band. This time around, however, it’s a ramshack-
le, chaotic affair as Dylan seeks a different kind
of performance with a series of intimate concerts
to be held in small venues such as theatres, school
auditoriums and circus tents.
He’s joined by friends such as Joan Baez, Joni
Mitchell, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Ramblin’
Jack Elliott, guitarist Mick Ronson and violinist
Scarlet Rivera, among others. All these years
later, the cast is a who’s who of rock history.
“It wasn’t a success,” a modern-day Dylan
recalls during a trailer for the film. “Not if you
measure success in terms of profit.”
All the white makeup and vintage costumes
Dylan and company wear look eerily familiar to
the spontaneous post-hippie esthetic folk festivals
try to capture to this day, even as the quirkiness
of the 1970s is replaced by the bottom-line reali-
ties of the 21st-century music industry.
Eventually, a few bigger venues such as the
Montreal Forum and Madison Square Garden in
New York would welcome the Rolling Thunder
Revue. Dylan even dispatched camera crews to
document the shows and collect footage for a
future film, Renaldo and Clara, which bombed a
few years later.
Dylan has revisited this material once before,
in 2002’s Bootleg Series Vol. 5 Live 1975, an excel-
lent two-disc set that has been reissued alongside
a new 14-disc box set which includes more con-
cert recordings, as well as rehearsals and other
Dylan has always been a careful collector and
protector of his image — a complete archive and
museum is being created in Tulsa, Okla., along-
side a similar one dedicated to his idol, Woody
Guthrie — so instead of leaving all that Rolling
Thunder footage on the cutting-room floor, Dylan
kept it in his vault of concert recordings and
unreleased studio material.
All these years later, he let Scorsese and his
team sift through the hours of 16 mm film foot-
age, clean it all up and re-edit it. And in so doing,
Scorsese helps remove the layers of dust off one
of the first personas Dylan created to keep the
“real Bob Dylan” shrouded in mystery.
It’s a strategy that’s proved so successful
that more than 40 years later, Dylan fans and
detractors continue to be fascinated with further
Dylan personas — whether it’s the born-again
Dylan of the late ’70s, a punkier Dylan of the ’80s,
his “roving gambler” look of his 2000s revival
or his obsession with Frank Sinatra on his last
three studio albums. These different versions
of Dylan — so well depicted in the 2007 Todd
Haynes film I’m Not There — rarely get closer to
the real Bob Dylan, which itself was a fabrication,
The result means Rolling Thunder Revue is not
a historical document, nor a look back at a charm-
ing chapter of Dylan’s storied career, a produc-
er admits in an interview with Reuters.
“We are not calling it a documentary,” Rolling
Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story producer
Margaret Bodde tells the wire service, adding the
film’s fictional elements follow the creative spirit
of the 1975 tour.
N other words, Dylan fans and critics
should not expect another revealing look
back at Dylan himself, like Scorsese’s
earlier Dylan effort, No Direction Home,
which followed Dylan from his early
days in Hibbing, Minn., to the end of Dylan’s
acrimonious 1966 tour, when his legend was
cemented into pop culture.
However, Rolling Thunder Revue does provide
striking views of Dylan the performer that are
often dwarfed by those famous performances of
Famous folk songs such as A Hard Rain’s A
Gonna Fall and It Ain’t Me, Babe get reworked
into energetic rock anthems — the beginning of
Dylan’s penchant of rearranging his classics to
fit a new narrative. He practises this method to
this very day as the 78-year-old continues his
Neverending Tour around the world, creating new
versions of Blowin’ in the Wind or Like a Rolling
Stone, which either breathe life into the originals
or mystify concert audiences seeking a bit of ’60s
The film, and certainly the box set, also offer
live performances of Dylan tunes he never sings
any more — the famous tune Hurricane, about
wrongfully jailed boxer Rubin “Hurricane”
Carter, or Romance in Durango come to mind —
providing another glimpse into Dylan’s oft-forgot-
ten songs from the mid-’70s.
Rolling Thunder Revue’s glimpse of one of
rock’s craziest tours, mixed in with some more of
Dylan’s whimsy, should keep those searching for
answers to the Dylan legend busy until next year,
when the songwriter is scheduled to release a
second book of memoirs.
DID YOU HEAR THE RUMOUR
ABOUT THE PEANUT BUTTER?
I DON’T WANNA SPREAD IT.
ARTS/LIFE EDITOR: ALAN SMALL 204-697-7431 ● ARTS@FREEPRESS.MB.CA ● WINNIPEGFREEPRESS.COM
WEDNESDAY JUNE 12, 2019
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Shelter from the storm
ROLLING THUNDER REVUE:
A BOB DYLAN FILM
Begins streaming today
Bob Dylan relaxes between shows.
KEN REGAN PHOTO / NETFLIX
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan perform together during
his 1975 tour of smaller venues.
The Rolling Thunder Revue brought together a who’s who of rock and folk musicians.
New Dylan film
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