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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Dont Look Back (Blu-ray)
Dont Look Back (Blu-ray)
Criterion // Unrated // November 24, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted December 2, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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Bob Dylan - Don't Look Back Blu-ray Review

Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back is a 1967 documentary film about Dylan's 1965 tour of England. The film was produced by John Court and Albert Grossman. The film was directed by D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop).

Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back is largely regarded as one of the best music documentaries ever made. The film famously opens with the Bob Dylan song Subterranean Homesick Blues with Dylan throwing down cards featuring lyrics from the song. It's a creative and artistic opening. The film diverts from many music documentaries in that it's not focused on the performances of Dylan's hit songs, but instead it focuses on Dylan's artistic approach.

The London Tour was in the Spring of 1965. Dylan was only 23 years old and had already found massive stardom. Dylan played sold out shows with legions of fans coming out to see the singer-songwriter. Dylan, who was still focused on doing acoustic music at the time, was called a poet by some (and a folk-singer by others). Dylan himself didn't seem to consider himself either.

The film also explores Dylan's interactions with fans and the media. He often gets into debates with those who come to interview him (one journalist asks him to describe his outlook on life: Dylan responds back to ask the journalist what he thinks, and the journalist is dumbstruck, asking Dylan how he expects him to answer such a question in a few minutes). He is also annoyed by a Time Magazine journalist and goes off on a tirade against the magazine.

There are also other artists who either toured with Dylan or met him along his London tour, such as American folk singer, activist, and songwriter Joan Baez and Scottish singer, songwriter, and guitarist Donovan. Sometimes Dylan seemed eager to play music with the other musicians. At other times, such as when he has a sort of sing-off with Donovan, Dylan seems determined to shine above everyone else.

Dylan was perhaps most famous at the time for the song The Times They Are A'changin' . This song was significant to both his career and to his fans. Despite several hit songs, Dylan was a artist who was continually trying to do better as an artist. Dylan is an iconic singer-songwriter. This documentary is a fascinating one.

Featuring cinematography by Howard Alk, Jones Alk, Ed Emshwiller, and D.A. Pennebaker, and directed by D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop), Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back is entertaining and insightful. This is an impressive music documentary about one of the most beloved artists in music history. Dylan was a musician aiming towards greatness.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back has received a brand new 4K restoration in the original 1.37:1 full frame aspect ratio. The 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded high-definition presentation is a strong one which has impressive black and white cinematography. This is a filmic presentation with fine film grain intact. This is a strong restoration effort.

Audio:

The audio of Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back is presented in uncompressed lossless 24 bit mono. The original mono sound design is well preserved. This is a reasonably strong presentation. Dialogue clarity is excellent throughout. The music of Bob Dylan also sounds impressive.


Extras:

Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back includes a booklet featuring essays on the film.

On disc supplements:

Audio commentary with director D.A. Pennebaker and artist Bob Neuwirth

Dylan on Don't Look Back (4 min.) features an interview with the artist.

65 Revisited (65 min.) is a 2006 documentary by D.A. Pennebaker with more footage from Dylan's 1965 tour in England. Unlike Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back, the greatest focus of the documentary is on the music performances. Dylan fans will appreciate the added musical performances in 65 Revisited.

Greil Marcus and D.A. Pennebaker (18 min.) features a conversation between music journalist and critic Greil Marcus and Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back director D.A. Pennebaker.

Subterranean Homesick Blues (2 min.) is an alternative take of the famous opening sequence, with Bob Dylan dropping the cards in a garden in London.

Additional Audio Performances by Bob Dylan:

It Ain't Me Babe (4 min.)

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (8 min.)

Love Minus Zero / No Limit (5 min.)

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (7 min.)

To Ramona (4 min.)

D.A. Pennebaker: A Look Back:

It Starts With Music (29 min.) is a brand new documentary focused on the career of director D.A. Pennebaker, featuring interviews with the director and his collaborators.

Daybreak Express (5 min.) is a 1957 short film featuring the music of Duke Ellington against the backdrop of New York City.

Baby (6 mi.) is a 1954 short film featuring director D.A. Pennebaker's daughter Stacy, two years old, as she takes a trip to the zoo.

Lambert & Co. (14 min.) is a short documentary on American jazz vocalist Dave Lambert auditioning a new group at RCA in 1964.

D.A. Pennebaker and Bob Neuwirth (34 min.) features a discussion between Bob Dylan's tour manager Bob Neuwirth and D.A. Pennebaker, who worked together to make both Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back and Monterey Pop.

Snapshots from the Tour (26 min.) features new outtakes from the 1965 Bob Dylan tour in London.

Patti Smith (14 min.) is interviewed about the importance of Bob Dylan and his significance to her musical journey.

Trailer

Final Thoughts:

Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back is an excellent music documentary on Bob Dylan's London Tour was in the Spring of 1965. This is an impressive Criterion Collection Blu-ray release with an excellent 4K restoration, a number of high quality supplemental features, and a high-quality booklet. This is a release well worth owning for fans of Bob Dylan.

Highly Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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