July 10, 2009 - New DVD, BOB DYLAN REVEALED: A Fan Club Review

Girlofthenorcalcountry's picture
Available at www.wienerworld.com "Bob Dylan Revealed"is a new film celebrating Bob's 70th birthday through exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage and photographs spanning Bob's career. While the title, “Bob Dylan Revealed” is the kind of title that I dislike and was a bit of a turnoff to me, it is in fact a film with a good amount of insightful commentary from people who were a part of Bob’s various bands as well as behind the scenes in other ways. There is a heavy focus on what it’s like to play, record and tour with Bob, which is always a plus in my mind. I much prefer documentaries that get info and relay stories from folks who recorded or toured with Bob vs. professorial types who are attempting to analyze his lyrics and such. This movie definitely fits the former description, with lengthy ramblings by Mickey Jones, often in the form of narration of his own home movies of the 1966 tour; Scarlet Rivera’s own telling of how she came to join and what it was like to be a part of the Desire recording sessions and the Rolling Thunder Revue; first-hand accounts of those same recording sessions, RTR, and the 1978 “Rundown” rehearsals and ensuing tour presented by bassist Rob Stoner, often with deadpan humor; and, perhaps my favorite part, very down-to-earth and engaging anecdotes from Winston Watson of some of the later touring years and his brushes with Bob as a part of that ensemble of players. All of the interviews are presented in a raw format with little editing, which is refreshing in a film climate when documentaries can be overdone. It is interesting to hear these varied remembrances and to note the common threads that run through them. There is a real affection for Bob and a deep respect for him as a creator in all of these first-hand accounts, as well as repeated testimony to the amazing spontaneity that rules both recording sessions and live performance with Bob. There are also some non-musician contributors with noteworthy additions to the story, among them producer Jerry Wexler, photographer Barry Feinstein and Rubin Carter, whose contributions include a unique perspective on the prison concert (Joni Mitchell fans may not love it). Ramblin’ Jack Elliot’s most notable comments in the film also relate to this event. Rubin Carter is revealed to be a very lively character whose recollections shine new light on the grave occurrences on the night of which we are all familiar with through Bob's song. The movie’s claim to “never-before-seen photos and footage” seems to be substantiated, with some Feinstein shots that I do not recall having seen before, as well as new (to me at least) clips from the famous 1966 interview sequences. This new interview footage, while brief, is itself worth watching the movie for, and evoked in me a combination of pity for Bob at having to endure the stupid, rude and thoughtless questions from reporters, and great admiration for him in his quick and hilarious replies. I got a laugh out of Mickey Jones' confirmation that Bob was knowingly messing with the reporters and having a good time at the same time. I have one main negative critique of this movie, which is the confusing allegation of “Drug Rehab 1967,” which is the actual title of one of the chapters but is never substantiated in the least and, from what I can tell, added purely salaciously. The movie makes this serious claim and then dances around it, leaving it as an unfounded implication. At best it’s a bit of sensationalism and highly amateurish; at worst it is slander and, in my opinion, seriously lowers the integrity of the film. Happily though, the movie rises above this blunder in its totality, with contributors who really do have something new and interesting to say about what it was like to be a part of Bob’s journey at various points in time. Overall a very enjoyable film.