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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Don't Look Back
Don't Look Back
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 28, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

"Don't Look Back" is a fantastic documentary that follows Bob Dylan on his tour of Europe in 1965. The film follows Dylan both onstage and offstage, and along with his kind and not-so-kind dealings with press and fans. Of course, there's numerous scenes with Dylan in concert, which are wonderfully filmed.

In style, it reminds me of what current band Radiohead did with their concert film, "Meeting People Is Easy". "Don't Look Back" is not "Hollywood" or "slick" at all - just a small camera and sound recording device capturing things as they happen - although Dylan is not the most talkative person in the world, the film manages to take an impressively personal look at the singer's daily life on the road.


The DVD

VIDEO: This is a "new, digital transfer of the movie". It's probably quite good compared to previous editions, but it still looks rather worn in spots. The footage, which is black and white and all full-frame, looks pretty good for it's age, with pleasing clarity.

The only area which I found problematic was that the image looks occasionally slightly grainy, and there are some marks and scratches in the print used. It's not consistent and some areas look better than others, but overall, I'd be willing to bet that this is about as good as the film can look.

SOUND: As expected from a small, older film like this one, the sound is thin - but not hugely so. The sound remains really clean and with a few slight exceptions, very clear without any sort of distortion or hiss. It's a very basic recording, but I never had any problems understanding it.

EXTRAS:

Commentary: This is a commentary from director D.A. Pennebaker and tour manager Bob Neuwirth. The 2 sat down 35 years after the movie was released to share their memories of the production, and their commentary is a treat to listen to. Unlike most commentaries that take a look back at a long-ago film, these two remember a good deal of the stories behind the documentary, and in-between they fill in with their thoughts on music and film in general.

Original and Uncut Songs: These are five songs ("To Ramona", "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll", "Love Minus Zero/No Limit", "It Ain't Me, Babe", "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue") that were recorded during the production of the film, and are available in their full form on this DVD. When you click a song, a screen comes up with information about where the song was recorded, while the song plays in the background. The audio was very good on these songs - impressively crisp and clear.

Alternate Take: Subterranean Homesick Blues: This is an alternate take of Dylan filming "Subterranean Homesick Blues" that didn't end up in the final film.

Also: The film's trailer, profiles, DVD credits.

Final Thoughts: A great movie that captures Dylan well, and a very good DVD. Although the picture and sound quality have their share of flaws, they are above average for a film that's not only about 35 years old, but was a fairly small production as well. A very good commentary and the uncut songs are the highlights of the extras. Definitely recommended, and can be found at most stores for under $20.
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