The Many Faces of Dylan

Cate Blanchett DylanThe other day I watched I'm Not There on YouTube. The film's premise had intrigued me since I first saw the picture of Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan, but I didn’t go see it in the cinema because first of all, I'm not a go-to-the-movies type, secondly, films of that sort never come to my neck of the woods.

"I'm Not There is a 2007 biographical/musical film directed by Todd Haynes, inspired by iconic American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Six actors depict different facets of Dylan's life and public persona: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw. At the start of the film, a caption reads: "Inspired by the music and the many lives of Bob Dylan"." (Wikipedia)

I admit it, I love films like this. Films that don't give you everything in hope that you'll actually think. I was amused by some of the comments left by other viewers (YouTube comments are so damned angsty, vicious, and grasping), especially those in which they wrote things like, "This is where I stopped watching. I don't get it." Of course you don't get it. You're required to think. Instead of turning it off to go watch Jackass, sit through it and let your brain cells knock together a little. It reminded me of when, back in the Sixties, the bubble gumming teenyboppers whined, "I don't get Dylan. He can't even sing. Put on the Monkees!"

The only time I had to scratch my head was during the Billy the Kid/Richard Gere bit, but as it proceeded, I recognized what Haynes was doing. I especially enjoyed the imagery in the film; it was like Being Bob Dylan, if Being John Malkovich had been about Bob Dylan. When a particular shot came up, I had to get a screen capture. What a picture! Dylan as a balloon, whipped around by the winds above a circus midway. Dylan 'blowin’ in the wind' of his self-made and media-generated image, the flimsiest string tied to his ankle, keeping him only somewhat connected to reality. It was almost like he was hanging suspended from a bridge, only upside down in a strange kind of mirror image. Loved that.

A lot of people didn't like this film, but then a lot of people don't like Dylan anyway, so that's the breaks. If, however, you like a film that takes you through the rabbit hole, and if you’re not afraid to discover that everyone you meet there is Dylan in different manifestations, you can watch it on YouTube, in 15 segments.

For the rest of you, here's the trailer:



Steph Waller is an author and composer. Her Rock novel, With a Bullet, which takes places in late 70s London, is set to be published in Spring 2010. Read more at Incurable Insomniac and

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