Blu-ray reissue: Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back ****

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on December 5, 2015)

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Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back – The Criterion Collection Blu-ray

This 1965 documentary (arguably the “granddaddy” of what we now routinely refer to as “rockumentaries”) is a textbook example of the right filmmaker (D.A. Pennebaker) hooking up with the right artist (Bob Dylan) at the right place (London) at the right time (1965) to capture a zeitgeist (“The Sixties”) in a bottle. Pennebaker takes a “fly on the wall” cinema verite approach to his subject, as a mercurial Dylan (and entourage) turn the tables on the British Invasion with an ecstatically received series of sold-out London performances.

While there is a generous helping of concert footage, the most fascinating events occur between shows; at press conferences, in dressing rooms and hotel suites. I’ll confess I’ve never been a huge Dylan fan, but there’s something special, palpably electric about his (for wont of a better term) “aura” in this film that is compelling beyond description. Criterion’s Blu-ray is choked with extras, including additional short films by Pennebaker and an illuminating Patti Smith interview.

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