To celebrate the eightieth birthday of Bob Dylan, we’re taking a look at the best on-screen epitaphs that have captured The Voice of a Generation, now on streaming services.
Don’t Look Back (1967)
Watch on The Criterion Channel
This is, in my opinion, the definitive Bob Dylan film. It’s also one of the most sublime documentaries about an artist I’ve ever seen. Don’t Look Back was filmed by D. A. Pennebaker during Dylan’s 1965 tour of England, his last as an acoustic artist. The film crystalises the lore of the era that has been romanticised time and time again. With footage of the ethereal and gentle Joan Baez, Donavan, Alan Price, Marianne Faithfull, Ginger Baker and Allen Ginsberg.
I’m Not There (2007)
Todd Haynes’ ambitious biopic of Dylan saw him enlist the ranks of six hours to portray The Bard, Carl Franklin, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere and Ben Whishaw. The film doesn’t mention Dylan explicitly. Rather, it pieces together scenes that those familiar with Dylan’s career will recognise, resulting in a sprawling, hallucinogenic portrait of the artist.
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Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (2019)
Watch on Netflix
Martin Scorsese blurs the line of fiction and non-fiction with his ode to Dylan’s hallowed 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue concert tour. His second film on Dylan meshes archival footage of the tour with constructed narrative scenes featuring the likes of Sharon Stone, Michael Murphy and Martin vos Haselberg.
No Direction Home (2005)
The first Scorsese-directed Bob Dylan film is a deeply empathetic portrait of Dylan’s childhood through to his motorcycle accident in 1966. The Herculean, 225-minute film features a trove of interviews with the likes of Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, Liam Clancy, Dave Von Ronk, Maria Muldaur and Peter Yarrow.
The Last Waltz (1978)
Watch on Stan
Over 40 years ago, The Band gave their final concert in their original lineup, Martin Scorsese captured the performance in 35mm glory. The documentary features performances from icons of the era, including Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell and Muddy Waters. It is an essential elegy to that time-honoured era of rock history.