Documenting Dylan

Documenting Dylan

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Documenting Dylan how the documentary film functions for Bob Dylan fans
Petersen, Theodore G
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[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
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Popular culture
Rock 'n' roll
Dissertations, Academic -- Communication -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to explore the role of the documentary film in the relationship between the artist and the fan; specifically how Bob Dylan fans use the documentary films Dont Look Back, directed by D.A. Pennebaker, and No Direction Home, directed by Martin Scorsese. Dylan, Pennebaker, and Scorsese are three important figures in American popular culture, and these are the two most prominent films about Dylan. These films discuss relatively the same time period, yet delineate two different versions of Dylan's identity. Dont Look Back, released in 1967, documents Dylan's 1965 tour of England. Because of Pennebaker's rhetorical placement and treatment of particular scenes, Dylan often comes across as mean and spiteful, lashing out at reporters and those around him. Scorsese's 2005 film combines archival footage with contemporary interviews to create a different picture of Dylan--- a picture of an artist who was mistreated and misinterpreted by the folk community, his fans, and the press. By conducting interviews with passionate Dylan fans, I concluded that these films demonstrate the rhetorical presentation of identity. Fans use the images found in these films to construct their identity of Dylan. The documentary film is unable to fully capture one's identity, but, as these films show, can only rhetorically construct the celebrity persona.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2007.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Theodore G. Petersen.

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Documenting Dylan :
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by Theodore G. Petersen.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
3 520
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to explore the role of the documentary film in the relationship between the artist and the fan; specifically how Bob Dylan fans use the documentary films Dont Look Back, directed by D.A. Pennebaker, and No Direction Home, directed by Martin Scorsese. Dylan, Pennebaker, and Scorsese are three important figures in American popular culture, and these are the two most prominent films about Dylan. These films discuss relatively the same time period, yet delineate two different versions of Dylan's identity. Dont Look Back, released in 1967, documents Dylan's 1965 tour of England. Because of Pennebaker's rhetorical placement and treatment of particular scenes, Dylan often comes across as mean and spiteful, lashing out at reporters and those around him. Scorsese's 2005 film combines archival footage with contemporary interviews to create a different picture of Dylan--- a picture of an artist who was mistreated and misinterpreted by the folk community, his fans, and the press. By conducting interviews with passionate Dylan fans, I concluded that these films demonstrate the rhetorical presentation of identity. Fans use the images found in these films to construct their identity of Dylan. The documentary film is unable to fully capture one's identity, but, as these films show, can only rhetorically construct the celebrity persona.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2007.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 111 pages.
Adviser: Marcy Chvasta, Ph.D.
Popular culture.
Rock 'n' roll.
Dissertations, Academic
x Communication
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Documenting Dylan: How the Documentary Film Functions for Bob Dylan Fans by Theodore G. Petersen A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Communication College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Marcy Chvasta, Ph.D. Janna Jones, Ph.D. Mark Neumann, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 27, 2007 Keywords: music, popular culture, celebrity, rock n roll, identity Copyright 2007, Theodore G. Petersen


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my advisor, Dr. Janna Jones. Enduring a move and a new position, Janna still found time to provide in sights and encouragements throughout my writing and research process. He r contribution to this projec t and my education is much appreciated and will continue to help me throughout my academic career. I would like to thank my thesis comm ittee members, Dr. Marcy Chvasta and Dr. Mark Neumann. Marcy took a larger role in this process acting as advisor and served as the Tampa to Gainesville liaison. Mark dedicat ed his time to this project during what must have been an extremely busy time for hi m. I appreciate the help and encouragement each member provided. I would like to thank th e dedicated Bob Dylan fans from several online communities. Their passion for his music and a ppreciation for his art are proof of Dylans continuing role in our culture. Finally, I would like to thank my wife Lisa, for supporting me throughout this process and for putting up with more Bob Dylan than any non-Bob Dylan fan should.


i TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Chapter One: Introduction 1 Literature Review 11 Method 26 Thesis 30 Chapter Two: Contextualizing the Subject, Filmmakers, and Films 34 Bob Dylan 36 D.A. Pennebaker 43 Martin Scorsese 47 Dont Look Back 50 No Direction Home 55 Chapter Three: An Interpretive Look at the Fans Experience 60 Dont Look Back 67 No Direction Home 74 Dylan, His Fans, and the Rhetorical Presentation of Identity 84 Conclusion: The Documentary Film and Everyday Life 94 Endnotes 105 Works Cited 107


ii Documenting Dylan: How the Documentary Film Functions for Bob Dylan Fans Theodore G. Petersen ABSTRACT The purpose of this study is to explore the role of the documentary film in the relationship between the artist and the fan; specifically how Bob Dylan fans use the documentary films Dont Look Back, directed by D.A. Pennebaker, and No Direction Home directed by Martin Scorsese. Dylan, Penne baker, and Scorsese are three important figures in American popular culture, and thes e are the two most prominent films about Dylan. These films discuss relatively the same time period, yet delineate two different versions of Dylans identity. Dont Look Back released in 1967, documents Dylans 1965 tour of England. Because of Pennebakers rhetorical placement and treatment of particular scenes, Dylan often comes across as mean and spiteful, lashing out at reporters and those around him. Scorseses 2005 f ilm combines archival footage with contemporary interviews to create a different picture of Dylan a picture of an artist who was mistreated and misinterpreted by the folk community, his fans, and the press. By conducting interviews with passionate Dylan fans, I concluded that these films demonstrate the rhetorical pr esentation of identity. Fans us e the images found in these films to construct their identity of Dylan. Th e documentary film is unable to fully capture ones identity, but, as these films show, can only rhetorically construct the celebrity persona.


1 CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION For an artist primarily known for his mu sic, Bob Dylan has been documented in many different ways; fans have access to Dylan in a variety of media. Of course, fans are primarily able to connect to Dylan thr ough his recorded albums and by attending live concerts. As one of the most written about rock icons in the we stern world (I counted fourteen books about Dylan at a local Bord ers bookstore, rivaled only by the Beatles and Kurt Cobain), fans can also learn more about Dylan through print. The documentation of Dylan does not stop with the printed word, however. From the seminal D.A. Pennebaker documentary film Dont Look Back (1967) 1 to Martin Scorseses 2005 documentary No Direction Home Bob Dylan and his musical/cultural impact have also been analyzed with the camera lens. A search of Amaz reveals up to fourteen DVDs about Dylan. These films help to create the persona his fans have come to know and love. The goal of this study is to make sense of how the documentary film functions for the fan; specifically this study interprets the documentaries Dont Look Back and No Direction Home and their role in the relationshi p between Bob Dylan and his fans. Robert Schickel describes the relations hip between celebrity and fan as an illusion of intimacy ( Intimate 5) a situation where a fan be lieves that he or she has a personal relationship with the artist, but the artist has onl y a vague understanding of an audience or a mass. While the intimacy may only be illusionary, the connections between the artist and the fan are real a nd ever-shifting. Before the 1877 invention of


2 Edisons phonograph, if a person wanted to hear mu sic, he or she had to be within earshot of a musician. With the reco rding and broadcasting technolo gy of the early 20th century, one only needed to be in the presence of th e proper technology (i.e ., record players and radios) to hear music. James W. Carey noted how the telegraph permitted for the first time the effective separation of communicat ion from transportati on (203). Recording technology created a similar physical separation between the musician and the audience. The audience no longer needed to be physically present in the same location as the performer. At the same time, the record also brought the performer closer to the audience by domesticating the performan ce of popular music (Marshall 154) In the form of a vinyl record, cassette tape, compact disk, or curren tly, an MP3, the fan can literally own the music. This ownership creates an identification between the fan and the artist. The personalization of the listening experience has increased this identification. The contents of ones iPod can compose an im portant personal statement. P. David Marshall notes how technology has changed the way popular music is experienced. As recording technology advance d, the sound quality of the recorded music improved. Songs were no longer a live perf ormance captured on tape, but the ultimate performance, created with many layers, e ffects, and improvements that would be impossible to capture in one take. Even things like timing and pitch are altered to perfection in the studio. The result is that the recorded music becomes the authentic version of the song, and the live performance becomes a reenactment or ritualization of the original version. The live version functions almost as a tribute to the original song,


3 either by how closely it matches the studio qua lity or by how differently it arranges the pieces. Marshall views performances as a kind of ritualized auth entication (159) because these songs are available to be hear d in a higher quality form through the record, yet fans do not hesitate to spend double or mo re what the album costs to see a band live. Fans attend rock concerts for several reas ons to spend an evening on the town, to experience a large crowd, to see an important cultural icon, or to pl edge allegiance to their favorite artist. It is often not the case that the fans come to concerts to hear the best performance of the music. The rock n roll documentary film seems to fit somewhere between a live concert and a recording because a documentary film usually doesnt contain the high quality, error-free sound that can be found on a record produced in a studio. It also doesnt have the excitement and intensity of seeing the musician live as part of a massive group of devoted fans. Nor does it offer the intimacy or even proximity (the feeling that often gets misinterpreted as intimacy) of a live perfor mance (Schickel Intimate 38). Yet these films do seem to serve an important function in the lives of fans. Rock n roll documentary films can be used in many ways. They can be used as a means of remembering a past experience a souvenir or reminder of a memorable experience. They can also be used as a s ubstitute for an experience one has yet to achieve; for example, the desire to see U2 in concert may be whetted by watching a documentary film of a live concert. They may be used as a means of time travel as well. Because Jimi Hendrix fans born after 1970 are unable to see him perform in person, the


4 documentary film Woodstock (1970) allows them to time travel to 1969 upstate New York to witness Hendrixs historic performance. Documentary films offer perspectives th at recordings and li ve concerts cannot. They allow the viewers an up-close view of the subject something neither a record nor a live performance can offer. Unlike a live con cert, where details and intensity can shift depending on what section of the building you ar e sitting in, the documentary film allows a closer-than-front-row and more-intimate-than-backstage connection with the artist. This connection is created, of course, by th e information and conversations that are shown on film, but just as importantly, by the visual details that we are able to see within a documentary film that we are not allowed dur ing the listening of a record. We are able to see the artists hands movi ng along the guitar, facial expr essions, and posture. We can lip-read what the lead singer mouths to th e guitarist in the middle of a song. We can watch the artists eyes light up as he or she speaks of an important moment or smirk after a sarcastic comment. Our desire to get closer to the celebrities we admire is simultaneously satisfied and intensified by the images presented in a documentary film. I have chosen Dont Look Back and No Direction Home as the main texts of this study for several reasons. Both films discuss an important musical and cultural icon with a huge fan base. If I wish to study how fans use documentary films, Bob Dylan is an appropriate subject because there are important documentary films about him, and he has a large number of fans. Both films were made by influential filmmakers. D.A. Pennebaker was a pioneer in the cinema ver ite movement of filmmaking. His innovative style and technical advances allowed the camera to be simultaneously portable and capable of recording sound. This led to a movement in documentary filmmaking that has


5 had a huge impact on the entire field of fi lmmaking, both fiction and nonfiction. Martin Scorsese has had a noteworthy career as both a documentary and fiction filmmaker. Films like Taxi Driver (1975), Raging Bull (1978), Goodfellas (1990), and Casino (1995) have solidified Scorsese as a prominent Hollywood filmmaker. The Last Waltz (1978), Scorseses film about The Bands final concert positioned him as a documentary filmmaker. Also, Dont Look Back and No Direction Home deal with a similar time period in Dylans life. While No Direction Home covers a longer period of time, they both deal with Dylan in 1965. In fact, Scorsese uses f ootage directly from Pennebaker. They both, to an extent, depict Dylans struggles with being labeled, misunderstood, and misidentified by both the press and his fans. Finally, these two films serve as end marks (thus far) of documentary films about Bob Dylan. Dont Look Back was the first film made about Dylan, and No Direction Home was one of the most recent films made about him. Dont Look Back offers a pre-interpretation look at Bob Dylan. It is filled with scenes of Dylan backstage and onstage, in hotel rooms, and being interviewed by the press. Pennebakers camera follows him through crowds and hallways, in cars and trains, and anywhere else Dylan goes. All of this is displayed; there is no voice-over narration or interviews to give us interpretive acce ss to Dylans intentions thoughts, or feelings. There isnt even a soundtrack outside of the music Dylan plays on camera. Dont Look Back is presented as if it were a fl y-on-the-wall look into Dylans life. Early in the film we see Dylan fieldi ng impossible questions from the press. These questions were so difficult to answer seriously that Dylan responds with humor or indifference. One reporter asks him what his real message is. While holding a giant


6 light bulb, Dylan replie s, Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. Another asks him why he is so popular during th is tour of England compared to his last tour. He simply responds with, I have absolutely no idea. One asks him if he thinks his fans understand his music. Another asks if he cares about people. To emphasize the incompetence of the mainstream press, Pennebaker includes a scene where a reporter asks Dylans friend and fellow folksinger what her name is. When sh e replies, Joan Baez, the reporter responds, I didnt recognize you. Nice to see you. Ive been looking for you all day. It is impossible not to sense that Dyla n does some posturing for the camera. In one scene Dylan gets upset about a glass that had been thrown from his hotel room into the street. Dylan demands to know who threw the glass. He declar es, I dont care who did it, man, I just want to know who did it. In the ensui ng argument his antagonist claims, Youre a big noise. Dylan responds I know it, man. I know Im a big noise. Scenes like this force the audience to wonder if Dylan is really like this, if he is putting on a show for his friends and guests, or if he is aware of the camera and wants to play a character. Later that evening, Dylan listens to a performance by Donavan, a ScottishIrish Dylan imitator (Hajdu 255). During his pe rformance, Dylan exclaims, Hey, thats a good song. Dylan later plays Its All Over Now, Baby Blue. During his own performance, Dylan passes a seemingly snide sm ile to one of his friends. Some feel that Dylan is being insulting with his seemingly sarcastic praise of Donavan and his smirk. With the two songs performed side-by-side, it becomes clear that Dylan is a much more sophisticated songwriter and musician. Dylan s performance might be interpreted as a way to belittle Donavan.


7 There were times when it felt like Pennebaker captured the real Dylan. On stage, Dylan was funny, gracious, and entert aining. Dealing with fans, Dylan is appreciative of their admiration and courteous to their requests for autographs. We see Dylan speaking very graciously with the Hi gh Sheriffs Lady as she invites him and his friends to stay at her mansion the next time they are in tow n. In down time between concerts, he and his friends play classic Hank Williams songs. He signs autographs for fans before shows, answering questions lik e Do you have brothers and sisters? and defending his new rock music. Playing mu sic and typing on a t ypewriter between concerts, Dylan seems not to be playing a role, but being himself. Much of this film is focused on the press. Dylan is constantly looking at newspapers and magazines, oftentimes reading reviews of his own concerts. In one scene, Dylan reads aloud a newspaper arti cle that claims that he smok es eighty cigarettes a day. To which Dylan replies, Im glad Im not me. Two of the most striking scenes show Dylan being interviewed, first, by a science student who was reporting for a paper and, later, by a reporter from Time magazine. Pennebaker allows these scenes to run uninterrupted for over eight minutes and si x minutes, respectively, granting each scene gravity. Despite claiming himself to be a delightful sort of person earlier in the film, Dylan appears to be at his least delightfu l during these scenes. Dylan is spiteful, aggressive, and insulting to these men. These scenes are less an in terview of Dylan and more a berating of those reporters at the hands of him. As the film comes to a close, Dylan ride s away from his tour finale Royal Albert Hall performance and says, I feel like Ive been through some kind of thing [] something special. This appears to be Dy lan at his humblest. But Dylans vulnerable


8 state is quickly interrupted when his manage r Albert Grossman points out that the press has been referring to him as an anarchist. Dylan returns to his posturing when he says, Give the anarchist a cigarette. The audience is left to wond er whether or not they just saw a glimpse of the real Bob Dylan. No Direction Home depicts the first part of Bob Dylans musical journey. Scorsese takes us from th e roots of Dylans journey in his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, to the completion of his journey (at le ast as far as this film describes it) with his final tour of England before his moto rcycle crash in 1966. Scorsese continuously reminds us of where Dylan is headed by interrupting the early biographical narrative with shots of live concerts from 1966. Dylan never re ally felt at home in Hibbing, and left for Minneapolis as soon as he graduated high school. In Minneapolis his interest in folk music increased as he was expos ed to more of it. He finally left for New York City to visit his hero Woody Guthrie and to expand his music career. In Greenwich Village, Dylan was exposed to the expanding folk s cene and the Bohemian atmosphere. After playing in that scene and meeting many influe ntial singers, poets, and artists, Dylan was offered a recording deal from Colu mbia Records. His first record, Bob Dylan, was largely unsuccessful. Immediately following the reco rding, Dylan knew he had already moved beyond those songs. Dylans second record, The Freewheelin Bob Dylan contained timeless songs like Blowin in the Wind, A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall, and Dont Think Twice, Its Alright. Dylan quickly moved fr om being an interesting folk singer to the prophet status that made him so uncomfortable. Fellow folk singer Joan Baez thought that she and Dylan had a great opportunity to truly make a difference in the world. Dylan resisted the


9 pull to become the Lefts new voice, the ne xt Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger. Dave Van Rank claimed that if there was such a thing as Jungs idea of a collective unconscious, Bobby had somehow tapped into it. Part I of Sc orseses two-part film ends with Dylan and several other artists walki ng off the stage at the Newport Folk Festival after singing Blowin in the Wind. A voice from the stag e can be heard: He has his finger on the pulse of our generation. Part II of No Direction Home begins with Dylans pe rformance at the March on Washington in 1963. His songs were labeled as protest or topi cal songs, two labels that Dylan to this day has tried to shun. Expectatio ns of how Dylan was supposed to act were starting to make him uncomfortable. He b ecame much more popular, even was referred to as a genius. Gradually his songs became recorded by other artists, often reaching the top of the pop charts. This got Dylan thinking about writing songs that might place higher on the pop charts. The result was Like a Rollin g Stone, one of Dylans most loved and most recognizable hits. Wanti ng to recreate the magic they achieved in the studio while recording Like a Rolling Stone, Dylan and the Mike Bloomfield Blues Band performed electric music at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. The rock n roll music was poorly received by several members of the a udience, most notably Pete Seeger. Taking his new rock n roll songs on th e road with a group of guys that would later form The Band, Dylan became restless w ith doing interviews and answering silly questions about philosophies and protests. He claimed that people who were outside of music started to get a distorted, warped view of him. His concerts, which consisted of an acoustic solo set and an electric set with his band, were often r eceived with boos and hostility. Finally, nearing the end of his 1966 English tour, a road weary Dylan tells a


10 reporter, I just want to go ho me. Scorsese ends the film with the powerful image of an audience member shouting, Judas! as Dylan walks on stage. Dylan, visibly shaken, replies with I dont believe you! Youre a liar, then proceeds to launch into an especially biting rendition of Like a Rolling Stone. It seems that Dylans entire journey ended right where it started, look ing for a way to get home. As mentioned before, the two main texts for this paper share many common traits. They both deal with Bob Dylans early years. In Dont Look Back, Dylan comes across as a juvenile, angry young man except when hes playing music or interacting with fans. At those times he seems to take on a much humbler demeanor. For the most part, he can be seen scowling and puffing on an ever-present cigarette. No Direction Home paints a different picture of Dylan. Through the interv iew as narration, Dylan takes on a calmer, milder persona. He is portrayed as mo re of a victim of being misunderstood and mislabeled. Even the interviews with the pres s take on a more light-hearted feel than the scathing attacks dished out in Dont Look Back. This is not to say that one film is truer than the other, or th at one is fairer to Dylan than the other. These films, made almost forty years apart, have different perspectives and goals, but they share a common subject: a musical icon with an extremely devoted fan base. What is important for this study is how the films construct the Dylan persona and how fans use the films. These issues must be dealt with if we are to fully understand the importance of documentary films in the everyday lives of people.


11 Literature Review The documentary film is an importa nt piece of cultural production. It simultaneously documents the world as we know it and documents a specific view of the world. People use documentary films for entertainment, to get information, and to interpret and remember events. Documentary films are presented from the perspective of the filmmaker. Pennebaker and Scorsese, for ex ample, bring their ow n interests and ideas to help create their portrayals of Dylan. To better understand the significance of the documentary film in general and the importan ce of these two documentaries in particular, I reviewed the literature on documentary films. Because this study focuses on the documentary film and its relationship with th e celebrity identity and the fans, Ive also reviewed literature concerning the culture and production of th e celebrity identity, as well as the impact it has on fans. With so much literature available on Bob Dylan, I have reviewed some of the more relevant sc holarly and popular liter ature about him. The attempt to define the documentary film has served as a stimulus for discussion since the release of Robert Flahertys Nanook of the North in 1922. The most obvious definition is a non-fiction film, howe ver this term doesnt completely describe the way that Flaherty produced his film. Erik Barnouw points out that Flaherty recorded several takes to ensure a high quality reco rding. Flaherty had a special igloo built to allow the proper lighting and camera equipmen t. He filmed the Inuits on a dangerous whale hunt, forcing them to use an antiquate d technique. When things appeared to be getting too dangerous for the Inuits, Flaher ty offered no help (Barnouw 36-38). In his criticism of Nanook of the North William Rothman writes, Reality plays an essential role in all films, but in no film does realit y simply play the role of being documented.


12 Reality is transformed or transfigured wh en the world reveals itself on film (38). Certainly the staged aspect of Nanook of the North is not simply reality being documented, but reality being manipulated or transformed, as Rothman puts it. The transformation or manipulation of reality draws a blurry line between fiction and nonfiction. To simply label Ross McElwees Shermans March (1985) as non-fiction does not do justice to the influential role th e filmmaker takes in creating the action. Much of what takes place in front of the camera would not have taken place had it not been for the prodding and instigating from behind the camer a. To simply label it as fiction ignores the fact that there were real people, beha ving as themselves in front of a camera. Similarly, to simply label Christopher Guest films like This is Spinal Tap (1984) and A Mighty Wind (2003) as fiction ignores the fact that these films were unscripted, consisting largely of improvised dialogue. Conversely, to label them as non-fiction ignores the fact that the actors were playi ng characters, not themselves. Bill Nichols, an authoritative voice on documentary film theory, further explores (and possibly confuses) the issue. He does not make the distinction between fiction and nonfiction, fiction and documentary, but between documentaries of wish-fulfillment and documentaries of social representation (1). Documentaries of wish-fulfillment is the term Nichols uses to desc ribe fiction films. They capture our dreams, nightmares, and imaginations. Documentaries of social re presentation, on the ot her hand, attempt to document the way people encounter the real worl d. They often have a truth claim about the world in which we live. Each type of film is a documentary because it provides evidence of the culture that produced it a nd reproduces the likenesses of the people who


13 perform within it (1). Nichols also distinguishes between reproduction (what a documentary is not) and representation (w hat a documentary is). He explains: We judge a reproduction by its fidelity to the original its capacity to look like, act like, and serve the same purposes as the original. We judge a representation more by the nature of th e pleasure it offers, the value of the insights or knowledge it pr ovides, and the quality of the orientation of disposition, tone or persp ective it instil ls. (20-21) A documentary film is not merely catching and reproducing reality, it is representing a particular view of reality. Carl Plantinga argues that a documentary film is marked as a film that contains asserted veridical representa tion (105). He is claiming th at the representations are asserted to be truthful and reliable guide[s] to the pro-filmic scene (111). His definition of a documentary film is a film that is made in such a way that the audience accepts the ideas, images, and shots as approximations of what the actual pro-filmic event looked like. Documentary films, according to Plantinga are films that appear truthful (114-115). It is noteworthy that Plantinga did not say that documentaries are truthful, but simply that they appear truthful. Another key point from Plantinga, a point in which Nichols and most documentary theorists would agree, is that documentaries are asserted An assertion necessarily implies an asserter someone making a claim, positioning evidence, or attempting to change those around him or her. Documentary filmmakers have a particular point of view, an agenda, and vested interest s in the subject of their films. These films should be viewed as constructions or arguments put together by the filmmaker.


14 Nichols describes six modes of documentary films: poetic, expository, observational, participatory, refl exive, and performative (99). 2 Dont Look Back is a quintessential observational documentary. Dir ect cinema or cinema verite titles given to the observational movement in docum entary filmmaking is the movement that resulted from the technological advances th at allowed both the sync hronous recording of sound and portability. This new technology le d to the observational style in which filmmakers played little or no role in init iating the action, but simply allowed the action to take place in front of the camera. When direct cinema is mentioned, Dont Look Back is one of the first films that comes to mind. No Direction Home uses extensive footage from Dont Look Back and other observational archival f ilms, yet it could more easily be categorized as expository, with its use of interviews as the voiceover narration. Other rock n roll documentary films fall into different categories. Gimme Shelter (1971), the Maysles brothers depiction of the tragic Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway, is extremely reflexive. In fact, we not only see the editor editing the film, we see the Rolling Stones react to the film. Portions of Gimme Shelter and The Last Waltz (1978), Scorseses film of The Bands final concert, could be categorized as performative. The viewers are encouraged to place themselves in the position of the camera and experience the concert as a live audience member. Each of these modes creates a unique experience as the fan connects to the artist. Jeanne Hall and George M. Plasketes are two critics who directly address the rock n roll documentary film. Halls insightful critical analysis of Dont Look Back argues that Pennebaker might claim that he ha d no agenda while making his film, but Dont Look Back truly incriminated the mainstream medi a of distorting the truth. By continuously


15 showing scenes where Dylan either attacks th e press or demonstrates their inability to label him, Pennebaker makes an argument ag ainst the mainstream media and their style of reporting and towards the cinema verite/ observational style of filmmaking. According to Hall, Pennebaker allows Dylan to present his systematic critique of the value of conventional reporting methods (235). Plasketes examined the significance of rock n roll documentaries in the 1960s and 1970s. Plasketes argues that four majo r rockumentaries represent the birth ( Monterey Pop, 1968), utopian perfection ( Woodstock ) demise ( Gimme Shelter), and death ( The Last Waltz ) of the rock n roll spirit. Plasketes describes the Altamont tragedy: Altamonts filmed portrayal in Gimme Shelter resembles a tribal ritual where youth have gathered to worship an d sacrifice (64-65). He writes of The Last Waltz The physical and emotional costliness of music and the road are magnified by Scorsese as foreshadowing the end of rock (67). Rock n roll films have been an important part of the history and identity of the rock culture especially the rock culture of the 1960s. According to Plantingas asserted veri dical representation, audiences come to rock n roll documentary films to glimpse some truth of the celebrity in which they are interested. Dont Look Back and No Direction Home are presented as a ccurate depictions of how Bob Dylan really was. However, if the viewers were to keep in mind both the asserted and representation portions of Planti ngas definition, they would be aware of both the filmmakers vested interest in thes e films and the constructed nature of the celebrity persona that is presented. Joshua Gamson, P. David Marshall, and R obert Schickel have interpreted and explained the construction of celebrity. Gams on discusses the histor y of the celebrity.


16 Historically, famous people were famous for accomplishing something. There was a direct one-to-one ratio between accolades a nd accomplishments. If you were a great man, you would become famous. If you were famous, it was because you were a great man. Gamson argues that with the onset of the image through film and television there became a separation of the self a pub lic versus a private self. This opened the door to skepticism about the one-to-one ra tio between greatness and fame and the relationship between the persona that is presented and the real (46). Marshall notes how this separation of renown from accomplishment leads to a system that emphasizes exchange value over use value (11). This means that each celebrity is not important for what he or sh e may represent, but purely for surface value. This type of thinking points out the consumption aspect of the celebrity culture. Celebrities are products that can be marketed and sold to many different people for many different reasons. Yet the celebrity is ultimat ely indebted to the crowd. Certainly, if it were not for an audience, there would be no celebrity. But Marshall explains how the audience plays a role in the formation of the celebrity: The celebrity is a negotiated terrain of significance. To a great degree, the celebrity is a production of the do minant culture. It is produced by a commodity system of cultural produ ction and is produced with the intentions of leading and/or repres enting. Nevertheless, the celebritys meaning is constructed by the audience. An exact ideolog ical fit between production of the cultural icon and consumption is rare. Audience members actively work on the presentation of the celebrity in order to make it fit into their everyday experiences. (47)


17 Marshall explains how the celebrity is an embodiment of his or her industrial/institutional setting as well as the expression of an audience/collective that attaches meaning to the public figure (185). The influence of Dont Look Back and No Direction Home would be miniscule if it wasnt fo r the audience attaching meanings to the two films and to the documentary form in general. Even further, the audience must first attach meaning to Bob Dylans music and his role in their understanding of the world. The filmmakers, the actors, the promoters, and the marketers can only do so much. It is up to the audience to attach signifi cance to any work of art or to any celebrity. Schickel points out that our communication with cel ebrities is all one-way communication. The celebrities ar e the senders (360). In fact, they dont even know that you or I exist, only a collective we fr om surveys, ratings, and basic demographics. This realization can be hurtful for fans. For most the pain only cuts as deep as not getting an autographed baseball card re turned after sending it to a favorite player. For some, the pain cuts deep enough to prompt stalking, harassing, and even murder. It is this one-way communication which allows for the multiple interpretations of a song, book, or in this case, film. For example, Scorsese allows Dylan to speak to his audience. Each audience member must attach meaning to this film without being able to speak back to Dylan. Gamson refers to the active production of semifictional information (76) which is at the core of the celebrity story. This i nvolves the reframing of each event to fit nicely into the overall picture being told. A celebritys identity is tightly intertwined with the narrative explaining his or her rise. Philosopher Alasdair MacI ntyre describes identity as a concept of a self whose unity resides in the unity of a narrative whic h links birth to life to death as narrative beginning to middle to end (191).


18 MacIntyre discusses the necessity to attribut e intentions to actions in order to find meaning in them. These intentions are entire ly wrapped up in the historical context or narrative that is taking place. His example of a person writing can be described in several ways: writing a sentence, finishing a book, pursuing tenure, and creating more scholarship. Each of these descriptions is accu rate, yet each one explains the action from the context of a different narrative, ranging from a narrative in a relatively short historical context to one that encompasses the entire history of philosophi cal thought (193). He writes, There is no such thing as behavior, to be identified prio r to and independently of intentions, beliefs and settings (194). Action cannot be meaningful unless it can be explained within the context of some form of narrative. This goes fo r speech acts as well. MacIntyre writes, In each case, the act of utterance becomes intelligible by finding its place in a narrative (196). According to MacIntyre, this view of lif e as narrative is a natural result of the way we think of all actions. He writes: It is now becoming clear that we render the action of others intelligible in this way because action itself has a ba sically historical character. It is because we all live out narratives in our lives and because we understand our own lives in terms of the narratives that we live out that the form of narrative is appropriate for understanding the actions of others. Stories are lived before they are told. (197) These actions are not isolated from the rest of the world. MacIntyre writes, An action is a moment in a possible or actual history or in a number of such histories (199). It is


19 necessarily involved in a history, usually much larger than the simple context in which it takes place. Psychoanalyst Alan Parry puts forth a cont rasting view of narrative identity. He claims that people can change the way they feel about themselves by more or less changing their life story. He writes, It needs to be realized that a st ory is not a life, only a selection of events about a life as influen ced by that persons beliefs about herself and others. Thus, it becomes possible to use the story to re-invent, revi se or otherwise rewrite the story of the persons past (43). Parry presents this as an effective way for a psychiatrist to help a patient cope with a difficult past and look forward to a positive future. MacIntyre and Parry approach the issue fr om very different perspectives. As a philosopher, MacIntyre is disc ussing the good life from an ethical perspective. The good life would be guided by a un ity of life or life story. As a psychoanalyst, Parry is trying to help people to lead a better life, a life that is mo re fulfilling and satisfying. By reframing the past, Parry hopes his patients wi ll enjoy better presents and futures. Paul Ricoeur presents his ow n version of a narrative id entity that argues with MacIntyre. He sees narration as taking the place between desc ription of the past (Parry) and prescription of the future (MacIntyre) (R icoeur 114). He sets up his narrative theory of identity by pointing out the competiti on between a demand for concordance and the admission of discordances (141). Concordances are the plans that are supposed to take place, and discordances are the inevitable reve rsals that arrive. Ricoeur uses the term configuration to describe the art of composition which mediates between concordance and discordance (141).


20 Ricoeur presents his theory of narrative ident ity: Understood in narrative terms, identity can be called, by linguistic convention, the identity of the character (141). This character is what endures through time to create an enduring personal identity. Our identity is simply our character, which can be thought of in the same way in which George Costanza is a character on Seinfeld Ricoeur notices a dialectic between the concordances and the discordances. He writes: The dialectic consists in the fact th at, following the line of concordance, the character draws his or her singul arity from the unity of a life considered a temporal totality whic h is itself singular and distinguished from all others. Following the line of di scordance, this temporal totality is threatened by the disruptive effect of the unforeseeable events that punctuate it (encounters, accidents, etc.). (147) This is how chance turns into fate. This is how accidents become part of the story, or at least part of the ultimate challenge that the agent has overcome. MacIntyre, Parry, and Ricoeur put forth di fferent theories of narrative identity. To differentiate between their ideas and relate th eir ideas to the constr uction of celebrities, I will refer to the VH1 program Behind the Music in which the biographies of popular musicians are told in hour-long programs. Each story seems to have the same formula: a difficult childhood, quick success, decline in fortune, and ultimate triumph. Usually along the way there are drug and alcohol addi ctions, failed marriages and personal relationships, and a death of a bandmate or loved one. MacIntyre might argue that the musicians had a goal for themselves (to become Rock Stars) and lived out a narrative that


21 would help lead to that. Parry might argue that after the fact, these musicians selected and defined the events in their lives as elements of their current story. Ricoeur might argue that it is a mixture of both a balance be tween history and future, prescription and prediction this mixture is what makes up th eir Rock Star character. Regardless of how these theorists would expl ain the story, all would agree on the influence of personal narratives on personal identities. The a ngry, spiteful Dylan portrayed by Pennebaker contrasts sharply with the calmer, wiser Dy lan portrayed by Scorsese. It is up to the audience and the critic to reconcile these two narrative identities. Ellis and McLane further support the im portance of narrative to identity by writing, Cv/direct (cinema verite /direct cinema) is closer to narrative forms, in any case, than to the descriptive expository, argument ative, or poetic forms that documentary earlier concentrated on and developed in unique ways (221). The format that Pennebaker chose to construct his film leads to the creation of a narrative character. Narrative identity is a powerful way to cons truct a celebrity persona, and cinema verite facilitates that construction. Richard E. Hishmeh further discusses th e created celebrity persona. He claims that Dylan and Allen Ginsberg developed a fr iendship to market each other as geniuses. Dylans alliance with Ginsberg, hinted at in Dont Look Back helped to put him in the position of rock poet, a title he had yet to ea rn. Hishmeh claims that in the film Dylan announces his new allegiances and suggest [s] that Dylans identity [] is under construction (398). He writes of Dylans Subterranean Homesick Blues music video where Dylan shows cue cards in coordination with the lyrics of the song: No longer wilding the folk artists acousti c guitar (as he does throughout th e rest of the film), he is


22 introduced here in the company of poets, playfully manipulating words as would a poet (398). Hishmeh notes that a similar scene occurs in Scorseses film as well, when Dylan playfully rearranges the words on a sign outsi de a building (405). Hishmehs conclusion is that Dylan and Ginsberg constructed a fr iendship in a similar manner as corporations merge brand names another example of the co nstructed nature of personal identity. Bob Dylan has been the subject of scholarship within the communication field. His poetic lyrics, his mysterious personality, a nd his traditional, yet innovative style have provided plenty of material fo r rhetorical scholars, popular mu sic historians, and cultural studies practitioners in the form of books, j ournal articles, and documentary films. I have selected to review three such articles fr om communication journals to show how Dylan has been considered from a communicative st ance one, a rhetorical analysis of Dylans music, and the others, performance studies approaches to his music. Alberto Gonzalez and John J. Makay desc ribe the rhetorical techniques Dylan uses during his Gospel music phase. Slow Train Coming and Saved, released in 1979 and 1980 respectively, were Gospel albums in wh ich Dylan sang about his recent conversion to Christianity. Gonzalez and Makay explain that Dylan borrowed from a combination of Christian images (extrinsic ascription) to a ppeal to Christian fans and his own musical and lyrical images (intrinsic ascription) to appeal to his current fan base. Through rhetorical ascription, Dylan was able to introdu ce a new form of materi al to his old, loyal fans. Betsy Bowden examines two different performances and interpretations of Dylans A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall one performed by Dylan in 1963 and one performed by Bryan Ferry in 1973. She comes to the conclusion that ambiguity on the


23 page can allow for flexibility in performance (35). Bowden points out that the differences in instrumentation, arrangement, timing, and vocal inflection lean towards a different interpretation of the song. Ferrys mocking version of the song leads to a triumphant conclusion, quite different from the drowning singer presented in Dylans rendition. Bowden clearly accounts for the interpre tation of a text to be tied closely to the performance and presentation of that text. Thomas O. Beebee also considers the te xt of Bob Dylans A Hard Rains AGonna Fall. Because the song closely resemb les the English ballad Lord Randall and because of its apocalyptic imagery, Beebee refers to this song as an apocalyptic ballad (18). Breaking from the tradition of the folk movement where songs are about specific social topics, Dylan sings about his place in the community of singers. Breaking from the tradition of the ballad, Hard Rain does not deal with a narrative stor y, but rather with a series of images that point both to the dire ction of the political s ituation around him and to his place as a singer within that situation. Beebee sees th is song as a combination of traditional ballad, with the question and answer form to each verse, and the liturgical litany, where each line has a first part that is answered by the second part (for example, Where the executioners face / is always well hidden) (27). The song is also a combination of three ideas: the apocalypse, po litics, and Dylans place as a singer (32). Dylans influence ranges much wider than these three articles show. In fact, none of them go into much detail about what many would consider Dylans most impressive, or at least important, body of work the rock n roll al bums of the mid-sixties, specifically Bringing It All Back Home Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde. They also dont go into a ny detail about the Bob Dylan fan. These writers explain a


24 possible interpretation of Dylans music, but dont discuss why that is important for the fan. There is plenty of room to further st udy the importance of Bob Dylan to his fans from a communicative perspective. Howard Sounes, author of Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan offers an extensive biography of Dylan. He begins w ith the birth of Zigman Zimmerman, Bobs grandfather, in 1875 and ends with Dylan s tour in March of 2000. Clinton Heylin authored Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments in which he chronicles as closely as possible every move Dylan made during his career. The day-by-day tracking of Dylan, while not necessarily an enjoyable way to re ad Dylans story, is a useful tool for following his movements through both documentary films. David Hajdus Positively 4th Street chronicles the lives of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mimi Baez Faria, and Richard Faria. The lives of these four talented indivi duals were closely intertwined at the peak of their artistic achievements. The book ends w ith Richard Farias tragic death on a motorcycle, and Dylans narrow escape on one Each biography discusses the making of Dont Look Back and Dylans humble beginnings and rise to fame just as Scorsese does in No Direction Home Greil Marcus, one of the best-known rock critics, has writte n two books dedicated to Dylan. The Old, Weird America examines the importance of the basement tapes made by Bob Dylan and The Band in the basement of The Bands house in Woodstock, New York. Marcus explains how the folk community of the early 1960s envisioned another country (The Old 21), and when Bob Dylan sang his folk songs, he embodied a yearning for peace and home in the midst of noise and upheaval, and in the aesthetic reflection of that embodiment located both peace and home in the purity, the essential


25 goodness, of each listeners heart (The Old 21). The folk revival emphasized the song over the singer, the common good over personal gains ( The Old 28). The rock n roll music on Dylans Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde directly opposed the country envisioned by his folkie friends. Dylans rock songs emphasized city over country, and capital over labor [] the white artist over the black Folk, selfishness over compassi on, rapacity over need, the thrill of the moment over the trails of enduran ce, the hustler over the worker, the thief over the orphan. ( The Old 30) Marcus frames the resistance to Dylans rock music the resistance touched on by Pennebaker and elaborated on by Scorsese no t as disputes over instrumentation and rhythms, not as competing musical tast es, but as a battle of ideologies. Marcus also wrote Like a Rolling Stone a tribute to and examination of Dylans monumental song of the same title. Marcus considers the song one of the most important rock songs ever written. As the subtitle of the book says, Like a Rolling Stone is an explosion of vision and humor that forever changed pop music. He refers to Dylans performances captured by Pennebaker dur ing the spring of 1965 as ritualized, recognizing that the folk songs he played were not where his heart was (Marcus, Like a Rolling 55). His heart was in the rock n roll songs found on Bringing It All Back Home and the yet to be written Like A Rolling Stone. Bob Dylans memoir Chronicles: Volume One offers insight into the construction of his character. Dylan introduces the idea which No Direction Home reiterates that he was feeling uncomfortable with th e labels and his own stardom:


26 I had a wife and children whom I l oved more than anything else in the world. I was trying to provide for them keep out of trouble, but the big bugs in the press kept promoting me as the mouthpiece, spokesman, or even conscience of a generation. Th at was funny. All Id ever done was sing songs that were dead straight an d expressed powerful new realities. I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of. (115) This book was released approximately a year before Scorseses film was released. Dylans memoirs and Scorseses film presen t Dylan as a misunderstood victim who was forced into a role he was uncomfortable filling. All these writers, including Dylan, offer th eir interpretations and perspectives on who Dylan is. They are trying to discuss Dylan biographically, musically, or from a scholarly perspective. While these are important ways of talking about Dylan, only Hall, with her article on Dont Look Back addresses specifically how Dylan is presented on film. Rather than focusing on Pennebakers ag enda as Hall did, this study will focus on the fans co-construction of Dylans identity. This literature of documentary film theory, celebrity culture, identity construction, and Bob Dylan history constitutes the background upon which I explore the ways that these doc umentary films function for the Bob Dylan fan. Method In order to understand how the fan and the documentary film interact, I must employ two approaches. First, I will conduc t critical and cultura l analyses of the


27 documentaries Dont Look Back and No Direction Home I will analyze how each film constructs and presents differe nt versions of Dylan; how eac h film contextualizes Dylans place as a cultural icon, poet, or prophet; how each film constructs the changes that take place throughout Dylans early career; and how fans deal with those changes. The critical and cultural approach will a llow me the freedom to explore the many avenues of meaning-making that the texts will allow. The cinema verite style of filmmaking started out as a way to find the reality of life, the truth in people hidden under the superficial conventions of daily living (Ellis & McLane 217). As one could expect, this attempt at an unobtrusive look at reality spurred on discussions concerning the cameras impact on the subjects, the role of the filmmaker, and the subjective art of editing. Rather than creating a clear understand ing of the reality of the situation, cinema verite created an ambiguous representation of reality. Surely the in terpretations of Bob Dylan in Dont Look Back will be as varied as the numb er of people who view the film. This is without even considering those viewers who have experienced Dont Look Back after first seeing No Direction Home reading his memoirs Chronicles: Volume One, or reading a Greil Marcus book about Dylan. Past experiences play an enormous role on how current experiences are proce ssed and interpreted. All this is to say that a critical and cultural analysis of Dont Look Back and No Direction Home is the appropriate method to allow me to explore as many ways as possible that these films create Dylans persona and the possible interpretations that might arise. Second, if I am to truly understand how Dylan fans feel about and use these documentary films, I need to find out from th em firsthand. To do this, I will analyze what bloggers write about Bob Dylan, Dont Look Back, and No Direction Home


28 dedicates a section of their website to gr oups. These groups have blogs that discuss topics that pertain to the tit le of the group. For example, in early 2007, a blog dedicated to No Direction Home included thirty messages by twenty different bloggers. It began with a blogger offering a vague criticism of the film searching for others who were less than satisfied with the film. One respondent di sagreed, writing, Hearing him talk about his Minnesota roots and the way that those s ongs on the radio embedded themselves was a great insight how many artists do you get to see looking back on how it all began. Another wrote, I was delighted with the f ilm. I thought it showed the struggle that Dylan has (even to this day) with f ans who want to own or change him. This film has created a new way for these fans to interpret Dylan and who he is (or claims to be on film). These fans are coming to grips with Dylans root s, his struggle with being labeled, and his true identity. Within the same time period, a disc ussion from Google Groups regarding Dont Look Back contained 44 messages from 29 bl oggers. They discuss the obnoxious behavior of Dylan and his treatment of Donavan, the Time magazine reporter, and the science student. Many respondents were disg usted with the rudeness of Dylan, while others either defend his actions as being appropriate for the situation or dismissed the behavior as an immature young man acting up for the benefit of the camera. Either by defending and/or ignoring Dylans behavior or by taking offens e to it, these fans have shown how important Dont Look Back can be to their understanding of who Bob Dylan is. The website is the self-proclaimed Bob Dylan Discussion Authority. This site boasts over 13,000 threads, 300,000 posts and nearly


29 1,000 members. Another website, www.dylanchor, is home to a large blog about Dylan. Members are able to discuss all th ings Dylan. Blogs like these are abundant online. Dylan has many fans, and those fans find outlets for their interest in Dylan online. When I found passionate and articulate Dylan fans on the blogs, I conducted several interviews via email. The responses from these fans varied. Some provided short answers, while some provided several pages of response. Through th ese interviews, I was able to consider the ways that Bob Dylan fans truly perceive his image, his role in their lives, and the meaning of these films. This study assumes a certain intensity of fanaticism towards Dylan. A lukewarm or casual fan would not make an interesting study, nor would they use the films as an experience or a medium for exploring and e xpanding their relationship with Dylan. The fans I am interested in understanding must be both passionate about Bob Dylan and articulate enough to accurately describe thei r relationship. For example, the monumental changes that take place duri ng Dylans early career depict ed by Scorsese and described by Greil Marcus in The Old, Weird America and Like a Rolling Stone his shift from topical social protest songs to introspective songs, his shift from acoustic folk music to electric rock n roll are only monumental to those attuned enough to Bob Dylan to perceive these shifts. For a casual fan, or especially for someone who is not a fan, the changes between The Freewheelin Bob Dylan (1963) to Bringing It All Back Home (1965) to Blonde on Blonde (1966) are either unimpor tant or imperceptible.


30 Thesis Dont Look Back and No Direction Home create a fascinating vi ew into the life of Bob Dylan. Told from completely different perspectives and time periods, they combine to depict a fascinating conversation between Dylan of the mid-1960s and Dylan of the mid-2000s. Viewed alone, the viewer is pr esented with an is olated, incomplete description of Bob Dylan. However, when viewed together, the viewer is forced to deal with issues of truth, reality, and memory as the hist ory gets filled out on film. In the second chapter of this thesis I will contextualize of the two films by looking at the impact of Bob Dylan both musi cally and culturally. The imprint of Dylan can be seen in many facets of American cult ure including rock n ro ll music and political discourse, yet it is possible for a college st udent in 2006 to wonder who Bob Dylan is and whether or not he is still alive. From his debut album Bob Dylan in 1962 to his 2006 Grammy winning album Modern Times Dylans more than forty-five-year career of making music has been as eventful and important to popular music a nd popular culture as any other musician in history. In the second chapter, I will also demonstrate the importance of the two filmmakers of these documentary films. D.A. Pennebaker and Martin Scorsese are important cultural figures and their participation in these projects is an important element of the interpretation of the films. Pennebaker was a leadi ng player in the technological advances that led to the cinema verite m ovement. Martin Scorsese has made several critically acclaimed and commercially successf ul fiction films and has been praised for his work on other nonfiction film s. It is important to understand the impact of these filmmakers.


31 In the second chapter of this thesis, I will also discuss the place of each film in the history and trends of documentary filmmaking. Dont Look Back is a landmark film in the American cinema verite movement. Since it s release, both Dylan fans and documentary film enthusiasts have come to appreciat e the depiction of Dylan and Pennebakers unobtrusive style of filmmaking. Dont Look Back captures one isolated moment in Dylans entire career. Offering no background information and no future plans, Pennebaker gives viewers a h ere and now look into Dylans past. Since no one knew at that time how important a cultural figure Dylan would become, no one was really interested in his past or his future. No Direction Home, shown on PBS in 2005, is a differe nt sort of film. Comprised of interviews, photographs, and archival footage, No Direction Home presents a biographic retelling of Dylans childhood, early career, and rise to legend status. Scorseses film is mostly back-story, with th e present only being depicted in the old faces of the interviewees contrasted with their young faces in the archival footage. This film was released on the heels of Dylans 2004 memoir Chronicles: Volume One and shortly after Dylan gave a 60 Minutes interview. Dylan fans were thirsty for more Dylan material. The second chapter of my thesis will place Dylan, Pennebaker, Scorsese, and both films within a context that will show the importance of this discussion and allow for an arena for the discussion to take place. The third chapter of my thesis will discuss the different ways each film constructs the character of Bob Dylan. Dont Look Back demonstrates an angry young man who may or may not be posturing for the benefit of the camera, his friends, or his own entertainment. Pennebakers camera seems to capture Dylan at a few vulnerable moments


32 which include his interaction with fans, his li ve performances, and in the final scene as Dylan is caught with his defenses down (H all 236) as he honestly comments on his experience on tour. No Direction Home presents a Dylan who is humbler than the one seen in Dont Look Back He is portrayed as truly affected by the audience reaction to his electric music and honestly hurt by Pete Seege rs attempt to cut his performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. In No Direction Home, Dylan appears to be the wiser, older legend telling stories about his wild, younger days. In each film, the viewer is presented with a different version of Dylans identity. I argue in the chapter that Dylans identity cannot be accurately reproduced on f ilm, but must be rhetorically constructed by the filmmaker and attributed significance by the viewer. Seen together, these films present a clear example of the distinction between Janna Jones time past and time passing (3 ). In exploring the relationship between an archival film and a contemporary documentary that integrates archival footage, Jones argued that archival documentaries, like Dont Look Back, display time past, a glimpse into the world as it once was. Contemporary documentaries that use archival footage, like No Direction Home, display time passing, making the audience aware of both the past, by showing the archival footage, and the pr esent, by showing contemporary footage. The reality captured in Pennebakers film gets treated as a memory by Dylan and his friends in Scorseses film. In this third chapter, I will analyze and interpret the interviews I have conducted with Bob Dylan fans. I will di scuss how Bob Dylan fans use these documentary films to expand or explore their relati onship with Dylan. I will try to understand the relationship between Dylan and his fans and the role these documentary films play in that


33 relationship. By doing so, I must come to grip s with what makes these films important to Dylan fans, how these films have changed thei r relationship with Dylan and their interest in his music, and how the more recent film ha s changed their interpre tation of the earlier film. Bob Dylan is an interesting and impo rtant musician to study. His political awareness, his innovative style of rock n roll, his influence on popular music, and his elusive personality make for fascinating material. The documentary film is also an interesting and important subject. From Nanook of the North to The Inconvenient Truth the documentary film has played a significant ro le in our cultural and political awareness, and identity. The quest for truth, the subtleties of persuasion, and the ar tistic treatment of a particular point of view make the documenta ry film a rich and important area to study. Understanding that the importan ce of an artist like Bob Dylan or a documentary film is constructed socially by the audience, it is important to understand how fans use these documentary films. My thesis will analyze how Dont Look Back and No Direction Home create a particular identity of Bob Dylan and how his fans use the documentaries to shape their understanding of Dylan.


34 CHAPTER TWO: CONTEXTUALIZING THE SUBJECT, FILMMAKERS, AND FILMS When viewers interpret a documentary film, they are simultaneously interpreting three separate, but overlapping elements. They are viewing the subject matter ; whether that is a rock n roll star or global warming. There is a subject or message being presented, and it is up to the viewers to accept or reject, modify or integrate this message. Viewers are also interpreting the filmmaker This may or may not mean anything to the viewer, but when you have important filmmakers like Al Gore, Mich ael Moore, Martin Scorsese, or D.A. Pennebaker, the audience may become aware of who is sending this message who is behind the film. Finally, the viewer is taking in the film as an artistic whole, an event experienced at a specific time, in a specific context. This study will benefit from an examination of the social, political, cultural, and musical context into which these films were released. In order for us to truly understand how Dont Look Back and No Direction Home function for Dylan fans, we must first come to understand the importance of those three elem ents: the subject matter, Bob Dylan; the filmmakers, D.A. Pennebaker and Martin Sc orsese; and the films, Dont Look Back and No Direction Home. In this chapter, I will show the importance of Dylan, Pennebaker, and Scorsese, and I will discuss the context into which these two documentaries were released. Bob Dylan has been called the greatest American rock presence since Elvis Presley (Riley 128). His impact on Ameri can music cannot be overestimated. D.A.


35 Pennebaker pioneered the cinema verite film making style and engineered the equipment required for this style. From art house documentary filmmakers to The Blair Witch Project to reality television, the innovative wo rk of Pennebaker has influenced many filmmakers. Martin Scorsese s style of fiction filmmaki ng has been much imitated throughout Hollywood, and his work on nonfiction films has achieved much praise. In order to completely understand how important these two documentary films are to Bob Dylan fans, we also need to understand the co ntext into which these films were released and how they were (and are) received. Pennebakers Dont Look Back was filmed in 1965, before Dylan had gone electric at the Ne wport Folk Festival, but was released two years later in 1967, after his motorcycle ac cident. Many importan t events took place between the filming and releasing of Dont Look Back. Scorseses No Direction Home was released roughly a year af ter Dylan published his memoirs Chronicles: Volume One and roughly a year before the release of his first album in over five years, Modern Times. Understanding the contexts into which thes e films were released is crucial to understanding how the fan might use these documentary films. Because of the nature of their work, Dy lan, Pennebaker, and Scorsese have been elevated as more than just artists. By doing what they do, they have been placed in the position of mentor, guide, and leader for thos e who wish to follow. Many devoted Dylan fans will claim that seeing him live, listeni ng to a particular song, or watching a film of him changed their lives. It is important that we discuss why and how these men achieved this high position. Their work has put them in positions of power as artists and as leaders. By examining their careers, we will appreciate both their artistic and cultural influences. We will come to understand how music was influenced by the work Dylan


36 did forty years ago, how documentary and fictio n filmmaking owes a debt of gratitude to the ingenuity of D.A. Penneba ker, and how Martin Scorsese is considered one of the most influential filmmakers of a generation. The names Dylan, Pennebaker, and Scorsese carry cultural importance. The focus remains on Dylan, as he is the subject of the films, but we must consider the impact the filmmakers bring to the interpretation of these films. Bob Dylan Born in northern Minnesota in 1941, Dylan had an uneventful middle class childhood. He played in a variety of rock n roll bands in high school and found folk music while attending the University of Minne sota in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It was in Dinkytow n, Minneapoliss bohemian village where Dylan first experienced and later performed folk music. Dylan received an education, though most of it outside the classroom. He immersed himsel f in learning and perf orming different folk tunes, finally falling in love with Woody Guthries memoir Bound for Glory. In 1961, he set out to New York City to visit his idol who was gravely ill. While in New York, his education continued. He established a relationship with Guthrie, though it is disputed how intimate th at relationship was. (Guthrie was suffering from Huntingtons chorea, and was probably una ware of who Dylan was. It is certain, though, that he appreciated Dyla ns renditions of his songs.) Dylan worked his way up the ladder of folksingers in Greenwich Village, playing a wide variety of music in his distinctive style. He claimed to be born in Duluth, Minnesota, but grew up in a traveling carnival. He created elaborat e, fantastical stories about his background. On November 20


37 and 21, 1961, Dylan began his career as a Columbia recording artists with John Hammond producing his first record, Bob Dylan. Dylans second album, The Freewheelin Bob Dylan, earned him the titles like prophet and savior he so adamantly claims to hate. Songs like Blowin in the Wind, Masters of War, A Hard Rains a-Gonna Fall, and Dont Think Twice, Its Alright positioned Dylan as a master songwriter who is ab le to tap into the emotions that so many young people were feeling at that time. Yet he did so in such a way that to many people these songs remain timeless, relevant decad es after they were written. His third and fourth albums, The Times They Are a-Changin and Another Side of Bob Dylan reiterated his unofficial title as th e voice of a generation. In January of 1965 Dylan began recordi ng the songs that would change popular music. Bringing It All Back Home, Dylans first rock n roll r ecord, was half electric and half acoustic. With songs like Subterranean Homesick Blues, Maggies Farm, Mr. Tambourine Man, and Its Alright Ma (Im Only Bleeding), this album was appealing as a folk record and a rock record. With his follow-up, Highway 61 Revisited released later that year, Dylan shunned the folksinger la bel and released an impressive rock n roll album. The lead track, Like a Rolling Ston e, opened up a new world to Dylan and a new way to express himself. Bruce Springsteen described the opening snare hit to Like a Rolling Stone: [T]hat sounde d like somebodyd kicked open the door to your mind (qtd. in Marcus 94). Highway 61 Revisited was full of rock n ro ll songs that set up an impassible divide between Dylan and the folk community. In 1966 Dylan released Blonde on Blonde. This album is full of instant classic rock songs and will be remember by some as one of rocks greatest albums of all time.


38 Following the release of Highway 61 Revisited Dylan embarked on a world tour. These concerts contained two halves: the first, an acoustic set full of his old folk songs; the second, an electric set with a group of rock mu sicians called The Hawks who would later form The Band. Typically, the audience would sit in attentive aw e during the acoustic first set and would boo during the electric s econd set. These concerts became tense as Dylan and the audience would exchange words, culminating in the Judas incident near the end of his 1966 world tour in which a di sgruntled fan compared Dylan and his new rock image to the infamous Biblical traito r. After the tour on July 29, 1966, Dylan was in a motorcycle accident near Albert Gro ssmans home in Woodstock, New York. Following the accident, Dylan took a hiatus from touring to spend time with his family in New York. Dylan followed up Blonde on Blonde with John Wesley Harding in 1967. This was the summer of love. The Bea tles had put out their masterpiece Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and the flower children were roaming California. John Wesley Harding was a minimalist recording of folksy tunes. This album was the opposite of Blonde on Blonde and the antithesis of Sergeant Pepper. Next came Nashville Skyline in 1969, a country record featuring Johnny Cas h, which was the first of a number of critically and commercially unsuccessful records. Finall y, in 1974 Dylan released the emotionally loaded Blood on the Tracks which was filled with songs dealing with Dylans crumbling marriage. His 1975 follow-up Desire reached number one on the pop charts containing the song Hurricane whic h pleaded for the acqui ttal of boxer Rubin Hurricane Carter.


39 Followed by some less successful albu ms, inspired by his conversion to Christianity, Dylan released Slow Train Coming in 1979. The evangelical lyrics put many of his fans off, yet this was one of his most successful records of the decade. He followed that record in 1980 with Saved a much less successful r ecording. After a few more poorly received albums, it appeared that Dy lan was a washed-up has-been. In 1992 and 1993, Dylan rediscovered the music that caught his interest as a young child in northern Minnesota. He recorded two albums, Good As I Been to You and World Gone Wrong full of traditional tunes. His next record, Time Out of Mind won the Album of the Year Award at the Grammys in 1997. In 2001, Love and Theft released on September 11, was well received by fans and critics alik e, though understandably overlooked by the press. His most recent 2006 release Modern Times has received much praise from critics and debuted at number one on the pop charts. Dylan never truly enjoyed the recording experience. He often rushed through the songs, trying to capture them quickly and e fficiently, spending little time rehearsing with musicians. This naturally created a difficult, sometimes tense scenario for the studio musicians. Discussing the art of making album s, Dylan told Jonathan Lethem in Rolling Stone, Maybe I was never part of that art form, because my records really werent artistic at all. They were just documenta tion (80). Maybe but these documentations had a huge impact on the way people see and think about the world they encounter and many would consider that more importa nt than making an artistic record. From 1962 to 2006 Dylan has made music th at pushes the boundaries of genres. His insightful records from the early Sixties and his innovative rock n roll records of the mid-Sixties will always be remember as his prime. Richard Corliss wrote, But four


40 decades of post-[1966 motorcycle] crash Dylan cant come close to matching what he accomplished between the ages of 19 and 25 (Corliss Bob Dylan at 65). With a handful of great records ( Blood on the Tracks, Desire, Slow Train Coming ), mixed among a handful to mediocre recordings, Dy lans career and genius had come into question. With his last three albums receiving critical acclaim and commercial success, few music fans would questions the importa nce of Bob Dylan to popular music in the 1960s and now. An important event happened to Dylan early in his career. On November 4, 1963, Newsweek published an article announcing that Dylan was not the traveling, carnivaltrained orphan he claimed to be. In fact, he was raised in middle class Minnesota and led a sheltered childhood. The article explains how Dylans fans seem jealous because they grew up in conventional homes and conventi onal schools. The ironic thing is that Bob Dylan, too, grew up in a conventional home, and went to conventional schools (94). This expos angered and humiliated Dylan. Many have rationalized Dylans behavior to the Time reporter captured on Dont Look Back as having been a result of this article. This experience taught Dylan a lesson that he has take n with him to this day: be careful with your personal information. On November 22, 1965, Dylan married Sara Lownds, a friend of Albert Grossmans wife Sally. Dylan kept his marriage and family as far away from the press as possible. Even close friends did not know that Dylan had married. Jeff Rosen, one of Dylans employees said in 1998, Mr. Dylan has always taken extraordinary steps to protect his image and likeness from any unaut horized exploitation. This has included making his image extrem ely controlled and thereby creating more value to that image (qtd. in Sounes 424).


41 Throughout Dylans career, his cultural importance was rarely missed by critics and reviewers. While not all agreed with Dylans messages or enjoyed his raspy, nasally voice, many recognized that his songs res onated with an entire generation of young people. In 1963 Time referred to Blowin in the Wind as an anthem for the whole lost crowd he speaks for (Let us now praise 40), in 1968 recognized Dylans power as a trendmaker and prophet for the college-age cr owd [] (Basic Dylan 50), and in 1969 called him a primogenitor of the rock gene ration (A Folk Hero Speaks 58). Of the thirty Dylan records reviewed by Rolling Stone, six have earned five star ratings, including 2006s Modern Times and eleven have earned f our stars, and this doesnt include any of the albums before John Wesley Harding in 1968. Dylan is still receiving praise from th e press. Jonathan Lethem wrote in the September 7, 2006 issue of Rolling Stone referring to Dylans three latest albums, Were three albums into a Dylan renaissa nce thats s ounding more and more like a period to put beside any in his work (75) Greg Kot wrote of Dylans 1997 release Time Out of Mind Dylan has made a coherent, so nically striking but equally subdued ensemble album that sorts through the mess of the more recent past (54). Rob Sheffield calls Dylans 2001 release Love and Theft a stone-cold Dylan classic (65). Dylan has received ten Grammy Awards throughout his career including the prestigious Album of the Year in 1997 for Time Out of Mind which also received Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for Cold Irons Bound. Dylans 2006 release Modern Times earned Grammy Awards for Best Contem porary Folk/Americana Album and Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for Someday Baby in 2007. He won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Things Have Changed, a song that appeared on the


42 Wonder Boys soundtrack. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1991 Grammies, performing a poignant rendition of his antiwar anthem Masters of War during the height of the first conflict with Iraq (Sounes 394). He as been honored with the Polar Music Prize the Kennedy Center Honors and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame William McKeen, a Dylan biographer, descri bed him as the libra ry of congress of American music, the most American of ro ck musicians because he carries a breadth of knowledge of American music: countr y, blues, old rock n roll, pop music (McKeen). This is what makes Dylan such an important, interesting, and continuously relevant artist. Richard Corli ss acknowledged that Dylan changed nearly every aspect of pop music from what a poplar song could express to what a popular singer could look like to who could write the songs (Corliss Bob Dylan at 65). The imprint of Dylan can be seen through all modern American rock n roll music. Modern Times Dylans 2006 release became his first number one album since 1976s Desire. He has become the oldest artist to reach the top of the charts, at age 65 ( Dylans career is full of incr edible moments and forgettable flops, yet it is impossible to doubt the importance of the ar tist who was called the Rock Poet or the Crown Prince of Rock n Roll. Bob Dylan has stayed relevant and important and is still making some of the best and best-received music in the industry. In 1965, Dylan and manager Albert Grossman approached young cinema verite filmmaker, D.A. Pennebaker to create a f ilm about Dylan on his 1965 tour of England. Pennebaker agreed, simply because it interest ed me just to watch Dylan, he claims during his interview in No Direction Home. Pennebaker got hooked on making this


43 movie and packed his newly-designed, cutti ng edge camera to record Dylans hijinks. This film would change the way people vi ewed Dylan, and would become a landmark film for Dylans and Pennebakers careers, as well as for the cinema verite style. D.A. Pennebaker Donn Alan (D.A.) Pennebaker was one of th e leading figures of the cinema verite filmmaking movement. This movement was fu eled by the technological advances that allowed a camera to be portable, silent, and equipped with sound recording technology. Pennebakers engineering background placed him in the center of the experiments with Richard Leacock, who was part of Drew A ssociates, a cinema verite filmmaking group including Robert Drew, Leacock, Pennebaker, Albert and David Maysles, and others (Barnouw 240). As often is the case, the technical improvements spurred a new style of artwork. 3 The cinema verite filmmakers were not interested in making films with voiceover narration or a clear message. They were interested in making films that show the world as it happens, with no altering or infl uencing by the filmmaker. As noted in chapter one, this style lead to a more ambiguous, subjec tive view of reality, ra ther than leading to a clear, objective understanding of the world. The style of cinema verite, translated truth on film, calls into question the very notion of objective truth. While working with Drew Associates, Pennebaker helped make important cinema verite films such as Primary (1960) about John F. Kennedys 1960 presidential primary campaign in Wisconsin and Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1961), a film documenting the Cuban Missile Crisis. After Dont Look Back Pennebaker made Monterey Pop (1968), a film about the Monter ey Pop Festival which included


44 performances by Jimi Hendrix and Janis J oplin. In 1977 he formed a professional and personal relationship with Chris Hegedus w ho later became his wife. They have made films together including The War Room (1993), a film about Pr esident Clintons 1992 Presidential campaign and Down from the Mountain (2000), a film about bluegrass music. Throughout his career, Pennebaker has shown an interest in capturing musicians doing what they do best. In addition to Dont Look Back and Monterey Pop he made Keep on Rockin (1972) about Bo Diddley, Chuc k Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1983), a film documenting Davi d Bowies final concert as the persona Ziggy Stardust. He made Dance Black America (1983), a film about a fourday celebration of African-American dance. He made films about numerous other musicians including singers Suzanne Vega a nd Victoria Williams, the rock band Depeche Mode, and Jimi Hendrix. Pennebakers credibility as a documentary filmmaker and as a rock n roll documentarian has been well established, with the crowning film being Dont Look Back. Pennebakers style of filmmaking change d the way nonfiction films were made. His films are completely unscripted. There is no storyline, plot, narrative, or plan. Pennebaker needed to be able to work on th e fly, filming scenes that only happened once. If an important scene was missed, there was no recovering. If the tape ran out (as happened during Dylans striking performance of The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol during Dont Look Back ), the conclusion of the scene cannot be recaptured. Pennebaker compares his process of making a film to a research program in something you didnt think you needed to know about you end up getti ng really into it (qtd. in Stubbs 46).


45 Discussing how the newest technology changes the way films are made, he says, I dont think films are made with the equipment a nyway. Theyre made in your head (qtd. in Stubbs 51). His films ultimately come together in the editing room. That is where you see better what youve made. When youre s hooting youre not sure what youre making (qtd. in Stubbs 51). As noted before, another important leg acy from Pennebaker is the technological advances that he helped deve lop. The key to being able to synchronize the visual image and the sound was that they bot h needed to run at predictable speeds. If one tape ran faster, the image and the sound would not match up. Luckily for Pennebaker and his colleagues, they were working for Time-Life, which had plans for style of programming now represented by The History Channel. Time-Life spent a lot of money for the development of this technology (Stubbs 59). A nother important step in this process was to make these cameras as quiet as possible in order for the people in the film not to be drowned out by the camera noise on the audio tape (Stubbs 60). In order for this to be truly effective the way Pennebake r envisioned it, the camera needed to be portable, easily moved according to the whims of the subjec ts being films. After many less successful attempts to sync image and sound, Pennebake r saw an advertisement for an Accutron watch which contained a tiny tu ning fork that produced 360 cycles, which you could use as a signal [a pulse to drive the sync betw een camera and sound recorder] (Stubbs 62). Pennebaker also spent a consid erable amount of time developing a battery that would power the entire system. Again, it needed to be light enough to be carried anywhere the filmmaker needed to go. With the camera finally perfected, Pennebaker was able to make films like Primary Crisis, and Dont Look Back, films that attempted to provide an


46 unobtrusive, fly-on-the-wall perspective into the everyday lives of important American figures. The cinema verite style, marked by shaky camera handling and out of focus shots, is often mimicked by nonfiction and fic tion filmmakers, alike, creating a sense of authenticity. The shaky camera, the less than perfect sound, the ability to move quickly to follow the footage implies that this is not a slick, Hollywood production, but an authentic, uncensored view of the action taking place. This type of filmmaking has become even easier to produce with the adve nt of digital video, allowing both audio and video to be recorded by a single operator. Pennebaker has been honored with many awards individually and with Hegedus. They were nominated for a Sundance Film Festival Documentary Award for Jimi Plays Monterey in 1987. The War Room was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1994. Pennebaker wa s awarded the Double Take Documentary Film Festival Career Award in 2000. Both received the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Career Award in 2000 and the Woods tock Film Festival Career Award in 2001. They were awarded the CINE Trailblazer aw ard in 2004 as well as being nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program for "Elaine Stritch at Liberty" in 2004. Pe nnebaker was awarded the International Documentary Association Career Award in 2005. A Time review of The War Room by Richard Schickel rec ognized that this film couldnt possibly document the entire Clint on campaign. But Schickel observed that, it is amusing (or appalling) to see a roomful of grownups arguing over whether hand-lettered or printed signs will have the best TV impact at the convention. Or to see ties being tested for their sincerity before a debate.


47 But the film works most instructiv ely, most memorably, as a kind of nature documentary stalking one brigh tly colored political animal as he patrols his territory. (98) D.A. Pennebaker has proven to be an in credibly important figure in documentary filmmaking. Not only has he helped create an entire style and ge nre of filmmaking, he also helped make the very technological adva nces necessary for that type of genre. His hard work both on and behind the camera ha s changed the way we think of documentary films and what we expect from them. Pennebakers work on Dont Look Back created the new genre of rocumentaries. A decade later, Martin Scorsese would direct what is still considered by many to be the finest of rock n roll documentary film, The Last Waltz documenting the Bands farewell concert. Scorsese also borrowed exte nsively from Pennebaker when he directed No Direction Home using excerpts and outtakes from Dont Look Back as well as the never released (though much di stributed via bootlegging) Eat the Document. Martin Scorsese Martin Scorseses interest in film was a result of his childhood battle with asthma. To keep him occupied, Scorseses parents took him to many movies (Scorsese 4). While his interest in movies conti nued to grow, he envisioned his future as a Catholic priest. When that dream started to drift away, Scor sese found himself attending film courses as a New York University underg raduate studying under Haig M onoogian in the early 1960s (Freidman 12). During his time at NYU, Scorse se wrote and directed the short film Whats a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? Combining the influences of the


48 Westerns he enjoyed as a youth, with th e great American classics such as Citizen Kane (1941) and East of Eden (1955), with the foreign films he saw on TV and later studied at NYU such as Shoot the Piano Player (1960), Jules and Jim (1961), and The Tales of Hoffman (1951), Scorsese created an urban cow boy style of film where instead of shooting up the Wild West, his characters were shooting up New York City (Freidman 17). Throughout his career, Scorsese has worked on several films of critical and box office success. His filmography includes most notably Whos That Knocking at My Door? (1969), Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The Color of Money (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Aviator (2004), a list that could serve as a syllabus for any late 20th Century film course He also worked on nonfiction films. He served as assistant di rector and editor of Woodstock and director of The Last Waltz. Woodstock, arguably the greatest concert film ever made, according to Lawrence S. Friedman, documented the three day festival of peace, love, and music in late 1969 (41). The Woodstock Festival took place on Max Yasgurs farm outside of Bethel, New York, and featured some of the biggest names in popular music Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Sly and th e Family Stone, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and Joe Cocker, just to list a few. Most notably not on the list was the voice of that generation, Bob Dylan. Scorsese may not have been granted enough credit for his work on the film. As senior editor, Scorsese wa s charged with making a coherent, enjoyable film out of the hours upon hours of footage. Ja mes Monaco writes, T he real creative job lay in reducing the amorphous mass of raw mate rial to a running time of three hours and


49 giving it shape and pace (qtd. in Friedman 42). Friedman gushes about the editing magic of Scorsese and [co-editor Thelma] Schoonmaker (43). The Last Waltz documents The Bands final concert at San Franciscos Winterland Auditorium on Thanksgiving Day, 1976. What started out as a project to simply document the concert for archival pur poses turned into a huge production filmed on mm, with full sync sound and seven cameras (Scorsese 73). A blend of live concert footage, sound stage perfor mances, and backstage interviews, The Last Waltz captures the uncommon richness of The Band s mix of American musical styles ranging from jazz and soul to folk and country (Friedman 109). On stage, the music is the message but during the interviews, lead guitarist and band leader Robbie Robertson seems bent on mythologizing the decision not to play along with the playing itself (Friedman 110). Frank Rich claimed in a Time review that The Last Waltz could be the best [rock-concert] film ever made and prai ses Scorsese and his crew for their use of film to enhance the music rather than smothe r it (70). A beautiful film about the end of one of Americas greatest bands (some might say, the last great band), The Last Waltz invokes both celebration and mourning, life and death. Scorsese has achieved much critical acclaim during his career making films, especially for his fiction film s. He has been nominated for nine Academy Awards for his work, and finally was rewarded in 2007 with Oscars for Best Motion Picture and Best Directing. Alice Doesnt Live Here Anymore won Best Film at the 1975 British Academy Awards. Taxi Driver won the New Generation Award at the 1976 L.A. Film Critics Association and Best Film at the 1976 British Academy Awards. After Hours won Best Director awards at the 1985 Independen t Sprit Awards and at the 1986 Cannes Film


50 Festival. GoodFellas won Best Director at the 1989 L.A. Film Critics Association, the 1990 Venice International Film Festival, and the 1990 New York Film Critics Circle. GoodFellas also won Best Film and Best Direct or at the 1990 British Academy Awards. The Age of Innocence won Best Director from the National Board of Review. Gangs of New York won Best Director at the 2002 Golden Globe Awards. The Aviator won Best Director at the 2004 Broadcast Film Critics Association. Scorsese has also been honored with several lifetime achievement awards including awards from the American Film Institute in 1997 the London Critics Circle Film Awards in 1998 the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards in 1998 the Directors Guild of America in 2003. Scorseses influence on American cinema cannot be overstressed. His edgy films have influenced every filmmaker after him. His career is well-decorated with box office success and critical recognition. His celebrity, like Dylans, ensures a certain amount of commercial success. These three figure s in American popular culture Dylan, Pennebaker, and Scorsese have provided some of the most striking images and significant advances in their respective caree rs. These three men ar e truly cultural icons. No Direction Home combines three major forces in American culture in one film and provides viewers with a document that truly demonstrates the achievements of all three men. Before focusing on Scorseses film, I mu st discuss the frontrunner to the rock n roll documentary film, Pennebakers Dont Look Back. Dont Look Back The timeline of the events in Dyla ns life leading up to the release of Dont Look Back is important to our discussion of the cont ext into which this film was released. A


51 shift started to occur in Dylans music in mid-1964. Another Side of Bob Dylan was released on August of that year containing so me songs in his earlie r tradition Spanish Harlem Incident and Chimes of Freedom but also containing some highly personal songs relating to his romantic relationship with Suze Rotolo Ballad in Plain D and It Aint Me, Babe. Ballad in Plain D ch ronicles the break-up of Dylan and Rotolo, climaxing in a shouting match between Dylan, Rotolo, and her sister. The song is biting and harsh (For her parasite sister, I had no respect). Dylan later implied that he regretted ever writi ng and recording that song (Sounes 154). While Another Side of Bob Dylan (an album for which Dylan pleaded a different name) was not Dylans best collection of songs, it represented a moving away from the topical, protest songs of his earlier albums, more toward the pers onal, inward looking albums to come. In early 1965 Dylan recorded Bringing It All Back Home and released the album in March of that year with the single Subterranean Homesi ck Blues / She Belongs to Me released two weeks earlier. After just a handful of concerts in the United States to promote the album, Dylan headed out for his tour of England to be documented by upand-coming filmmaker, D.A. Pennebaker. This new album represented an even greater shift in Dylans music. The first half of th e album was rock n roll, with the blazingly fast Subterranean Homesick Bl ues kicking it off. The second half of the record was full of acoustic performances which included Mr. Tambourine Man and Its All Over Now Baby Blue, which some took to be his farewell to the folk community. Dylan was now a rock star, receiving a rock stars reception as he came and went to shows, but he was playing a folksingers concert. His shows were filled with The Times They Are a-Changin, With God on Our Side, and The Lonesome Death of


52 Hattie Carroll, while, according to McKeen, his mind and heart seemed to be on rockers like Subterranean Homesick Blues and Maggies Farm. Dylan returned from England on June 2, 1965, and promptly recorded Like a Rolling Stone on June 15, which was released as a single on July 20. On July 25, Dylan played his rebellious performance at the Ne wport Folk Festival to a lukewarm reception. On August 14, Like a Rolling Stone hit num ber two on the pop charts and on August 20, Highway 61 Revisited Dylans first full-fledged rock album, hit the record stores. After extensive touring across the U.S. in which Dylan played each show with one half acoustic and one half accompanied by musicians who would become The Band, Dylan headed out on a world tour in April 1 966, with stops in Australia, Denmark, Ireland, France, and England. This tour of England was filmed again by Pennebaker, this time directed by Dylan, to be incl uded on the unreleased film Eat the Document Much of this footage makes up the striking concert footage used by Scorsese in No Direction Home. At the end of May, Dylans world tour ended, and he and his new wi fe, Sara, took a brief vacation in Spain and returned to the U.S. On July 29, 1966, Dylan fell off his motorcycle. While the injury may have been exaggerated by the press Time reported that he broke his neck (A Folk Hero Speaks 58) Dylan took it as an opportunity to take a break from the fast-paced, drug-laced lifestyle he had been living on the ro ad. During his break, Dylan worked on Eat the Document spent time with his family, and studied painting. In March 1967, Bob Dylans Greatest Hits was released to critical praise, wh ile feeding rumors that Dylan was no longer able to make original music. On May 17, Dont Look Back premiered at the Presidio Theater in San Francisco. Almost afte r a year of being out of the spotlight, and


53 fully two years since it was filmed, Dont Look Back was already an archaic picture of a Dylan whom no one knew anymore. The Dylan presented in Pennebakers film barely resembled the one touring England with the Hawks and was almost unrecognizable as the Dylan who released John Wesley Harding later that year in December. Dylan was incredibly prolific in the mid 1960s. He released four albums in twenty-two months starting with Another Side of Bob Dylan in August 1964 and ending with Blonde on Blonde in May 1966. A pace like that is inconceivable today, but even back then was extremely prolific. Fans were getting used to hearing a new message (and new incarnation) from Bob Dylan every six months or so. A year had passed since Blonde on Blonde when Dont Look Back finally came out. With concerns about Dylans health and future, his fans were hungry for more Bob Dylan material. Dont Look Backs release in May 1967 received poor reviews and attendance in the middle of the country, but was well-rece ived in both New York and California. Journalists used the release of the film as an excuse [] to heap praise upon Dylan for his past achievement (Sounes 225). Joseph Morgen sterns gushing review of the film in Newsweek in 1967 read, The honest truth it show s is a singing genius who does not know where his songs come from, and who is brave enough and wise enough to not let it bother him too much (65). Morgenstern referre d to one of the reporters who tried to interview Dylan as an idiot reporter (65). John Wasserman wa s a little more critical of the film in his review in Life s August 11, 1967 issue. He co mplained that what we do not see, or feel, is what is going on inside Dylan, described the filmmaking as not much above a home movie, and found Dylan to be ruthless and arrogant (10). Yet Wasserman concluded that it is an engrossing film, a real ac count of an artist practicing


54 his profession (10). Time found less to appreciate about both the film and the singer: Pennebaker has created a 96-minute essay in cinematic truthtelling that may explain how the thin-voiced bard of the bedra ggled became a subcultural prophet and a millionaire by combining the most resonant clichs of alienation and some not very distinguished music (Pop Prophet 72). It is not terribly surprising to see a less-thanthrilled review from the magazine that empl oys the reporter whom Dylan most viciously attacked. Things were happening outside the world of Dylan. It was the summer of love, 1967; the year of the Beatles classic Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, and a riotous year in cities across the country. Racial tensions reached dange rous peaks as race riots occurred in several ci ties including Washington, D.C. The Vietnam War was sliding out of control. The fear of nuclear annihi lation was still permeating everyday life. The country was still getting over the shock of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and would soon be blindsided by the assassinations of Robert Kennedy a nd Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. It was a tumultuous time in American history a time when pop music seemed simultaneously trivial a nd important, when music could help to alleviate the pain of everyday life or point it out and offer insights and solutions. Dont Look Back was released into a violent, turbulent world, and featured a performer who had been absent for nearly a y ear. Yet the press and particularly his fans were eager for anyand everyt hing Bob Dylan put out. It is no surprise that the film received praise from the press and from his fans. During a dark period for the nation and seemingly for Dylan, this film provided a glimpse into the real life world of a rock star.


55 Forty years later, Martin Scorsese took the sparse, almost random images found in Dont Look Back, and placed them into a narrative explaining the first 25 years of Dylans life, primarily the first si x years of his career. No Direction Home Dylans 2001 release, Love and Theft hit record stores on that fateful eleventh day of September. It was almost fully f our years after his 1997 comeback record Time Out of Mind Yet to say that Dylan was not in the public eye would be a mistake. In the fall of 1998, Dylan released the fourth volume in The Bootleg Series, a recording the of the mislabeled Royal Albert Ha ll concert in 1966 which feat ured the Judas taunt. In the fall of 2000, The Essential Bob Dylan a collection of Dylans best songs, was made available. On September 12, 2001, it comes as no surprise that the least of our concerns was the lack of press Love and Theft, a wonderful collection of songs, was receiving. Dylan was officially back with two widely praised records recorded at the ages of 56 and 60, respectively. In the fall of 2002 The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975: The Rolling Thunder Revue was released, followed by The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall in March 2004. On October 5, 2004 Simon and Schuster published Dylans Chronicles: Volume 1, which was on the New York Times Bestseller list for nineteen w eeks. Less than a year later, No Direction Home premiered on PBS on September 26 and 27, 2005. The film was accompanied by the release of The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack featuring many home recordings, alternative takes, and never-before-heard record ings. Only two months later


56 The Best of Bob Dylan was released. Interestingly, this album contained only one song not included on The Essential Bob Dylan released only five year s earlier, and in fact, contained 14 fewer songs th an the earlie r release. Dylan was featured on a 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace following the release of his memoir in December 2004. Beginning in the spring of 2006, Dylan began hosting an XM satellite radio program. He fo cuses on a particular theme for the day and plays music that relates to that theme. In the fall of 2006, (Its fall; its Bob Dylan season, says McKeen), Dylan released Modern Times at age 65, debuting at number one on the pop charts. Dylan has kept his name and image in the public eye. One can only speculate if the timing of these releases (it seems something Dylan comes out about once a year in the fall) is something he does on purpose to stay releva nt or if it only fits his natural working cycle. Re gardless, while Dylans new original albums only appear every five years or so, his fans are not forced to go without. It is within this almost rhythmic pattern of Dylan to which No Direction Home was released. While the times may not be quite as tumultuous dur ing the release of No Direction Home as they were during the release Dont Look Back, the war in Iraq has turned into this generations Vietnam, a nd Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast leaving thousands homeless, jobless, and seemingly futureless, reigniting discussion about racism in the United States. The times might be a-changin, but they can seem eerily similar. No Direction Home was based on a 2000 interview of Bob Dylan by longtime Dylan associate Jeff Rosen (Ta ubin 31). While Scorsese didnt shoot most of the footage which appears in the film, it was his artist ic vision that created the phenomenal film.


57 Scorsese created dramatic te nsion by contrasting the early Dylan footage, the interview scene with older Dylan and his friends, w ith the chaotic footage of Dylans wild 1966 tour of Europe with the Hawks. The vision of the older, wiser Dylans commentary over the younger, wilder Dylans image provides the viewers with a powerful take on how time changes people, images, and events. Scorseses film received its share of praise. Amy Taubin appreciated the way he turned the tired documentary trope of the slow gliding movement into and out from a still photography into a rhythmic ostinato (32). Rolling Stone reporter Brian Hiatt appreciated the unseen footage and unhear d music unearthed by Scorsese and the unusually relaxed and open conversation wi th Dylan (par. 4). Hiatt quotes Suze Rotolo, It was nice because the movie did not perpetua te that god myth. It wasnt a fan talking about something they mythologize it was coming from everybodys own story (par. 1). Both Hiatt and Richard Corliss appeared to appreciate the film, but found fault with the omission of information about Dylans private life (Corliss When He Was par. 8). Corliss also called Scorsese a ma ster documentarian as well as a prime picturemaker (Corliss When He Was pa r. 4). Jonathan Lethem understood the constructed nature of Dylans public persona He could have been referring to his memoirs, the documentary film, the 60 Minutes interview, or the XM radio show when he wrote, Puncturing myths, boycotting analys is and ignoring chronol ogy are likely part of a long and lately quite successful campai gn not to be incarcerated within his own legend (128). While it is important to understand th e context and the history behind each element in the process of interpreting and internalizing these two films the subject


58 matter, the filmmakers, and the films themse lves it is important to understand that the context into which each film is received is somewhat individualized. There are certain elements that may be common to many of t hose viewing the films (i.e. the news of Hurricane Katrina surely preceded the viewing of No Direction Home ), however, each individual must interpret, in ternalize, and make conclusions for himself or herself in order to personally use these films in a specific way. That is the process that I am trying to understand the way that these films ar e viewed by thousands of people, yet are personalized individually to become important in an individuals li fe. Dylan, Pennebaker, and Scorsese are important cultural figur es. However, there will be viewers of Dont Look Back who have never heard of either Pennebaker or Dylan. There wi ll be viewers of No Direction Home who have never seen a Scorsese film and have never listened to a Dylan record. Yet these people will take these films and use them to create their understanding of Dylan or the filmmakers. These three figures have contributed much to popular cultu re. The least known and least recognized of the three, Penneba kers technological advances and stylist innovations helped create a new genre of doc umentary filmmaking and a new aesthetic that can be seen in fiction and nonfiction films, journalism and reality television. Scorsese is one of the most cr eative filmmakers to come out of a generati on that changed the way cinema was considered. His work on fiction and nonfiction films has earned him much praise and has greatly influenced the entire film industry. Dylan has given the civil rights movement some of their most powerfu l songs in the early 1960s, created an edgy style of rock n roll that changed the way rock music was considered in the mid-1960s, and has returned to make some of his most innovative and critically acclaimed music in


59 the last ten years. No Direction Home combined the cultural forces of Dylan, Pennebaker, and Scorsese to make a significant and ar tistic film about one of the best known American icons. The history of these two films and their filmmakers offer insights into why they have become so important. The achievement by Dylan, Pennebaker, and Scorsese have placed them in positions in which the things they do and say matter to other people. They are in positions of power, whet her they like it or not. Both of these films about the Rock Poet were made by master filmmakers who ha ve made some of the most interesting and well-respected films in their fields. But the truth of the matter is Dylan makes these films remarkable. It is his cultural importance that shines through both films, carries each film to the elevated status they have received. Th e final chapter of this thesis will discuss how each of these films works to create a unique picture of Bob Dylan and how these films work together or against each other to achieve this.


60 CHAPTER THREE: AN INTERPRETIVE LOOK AT THE FANS EXPERIENCE D.A. Pennebakers Dont Look Back provides the audience with a look at two weeks in Bob Dylans life an extremely short period of time. In contrast, Martin Scorseses No Direction Home considers nearly sixty years. The film concentrates on Dylans career between 1960 and 1966, but begins with his childhood and upbringing in the 1940s and 1950s and is narrated by an interview conducted in 2000. Pennebaker and Scorsese use different methods of presenti ng Dylan. Pennebaker allowed Dylan to show us himself. His actions are all the informa tion the audience receives. Scorsese, on the other hand, allows Dylan and his colleagues to provide explanations and rationales for Dylans actions. Pennebaker leaves the interp retation up to the viewer while Scorsese does much of the interpreting for the viewer. In Dont Look Back, Pennebaker shows a series of actions Dylan meeting with the press, performing on stage, arguing with reporters, and so on. To make meaning of these actions, the viewers must attribute inte ntions or motivations to these actions. The tendency is to assume that these motivations re sult from an overall character trait. When Dylan says something, we assume it comes from a deeply-rooted characteristic. What he says demonstrates a permanent element of his character or his identi ty. By showing these actions without providing the intentions, c ontext, or rationale, Pennebaker leaves the meaning up to the audience; hence the ambiguous nature of the film and the myriad interpretations of it.


61 Scorsese, alternatively, provides both the actions and the inte ntions. In providing the intentions or rationalizations, Scorsese th ereby explains Dylans actions. The viewers are reminded that Dylans beha vior does not necessarily represent a permanent character trait, but may have resulted from his positi on in a temporary situation. By showing that Dylan was acting in response to a particular situation, Scorsese created a new way for the viewers to consider Dylans identity. Dylans identity goes through many interpre tive layers as viewers find meaning in these films. The layers of interpretation in Pennebakers film involve the interpretation of Dylans persona first as presented by young Dylan, then through Pennebakers camera and editing, then to the hands of the viewers. In Scorseses film, it is Dylans persona though Dylan, through Pennebaker (or the filmmakers of the other archiv al footage), then through older Dylan and his contemporaries over time, then through Scorseses editing, and finally into the hands of the viewers. To fully understand the way these films are interpreted by the viewers, it is important for me to have direct contact with Dylan fans. By interviewing passionate and intelligent Bob Dylan fans and getting them to discuss the ways that these films are important to them and their understanding of Dylan, I have been able to get to the co re of how these films are processed by the viewers. Each of these two films claims to addre ss Dylans identity. They are presented as a personal look at the real artist an inside rs view into Dylans life. However, ones identity is a complex and ephemeral concept hardly something to be captured on film and presented in ninety minutes. Rather, ones identity can only be presented rhetorically on film, a mere representation a nd interpretation of the real, leaving issues of accuracy and authenticity for the viewers to consider.


62 There are two distinct yet interconnected wa ys of thinking about the term identity. First, identity can be underst ood as something that a particul ar person owns about himself or herself. In the second sense of the te rm, the one most useful for our discussion, identity refers to how an individual is unde rstood by others. The second use of the term must be defined by things that an outsider ca n observe. This consis ts mostly of actions and words. Voicing an opinion, authoring a boo k, and writing a song are all actions. Even someone as close to me as my wife knows me only by the things I have done and said. In order to draw conclusions about someones id entity, others must attribute intentions to the actions. This second form of identification requires an interpretive process. The thoughts, intentions, and motivations are attributed to the agent based on his or her actions. For example, in the song Shes a Jar, Jeff Tw eedy of Wilco sings, Shes a jar/With a heavy lid/My pop quiz kid/A slee py kisser/A pretty war/With feelings hid/You know she begs me not to hit her(Wilco). Wilco biographer Greg Kot writes, Tweedys allusiveness went only so far. His lyrics were fiction steep ed in truth, beauty dipped in blood (137). The last line of the song, You know she begs me not to hit her, can be interpreted in several different ways. The mo st common interpretation is that Tweedy is singing about an abusive relationship he has be en in. By ascribing such intentions, the audience will draw particular conclusions a bout Tweedy. However, it is also likely that listeners would conclude that Tweedy is writing fiction. A novelist writing about a murder is not admitting to murder. This attribution of intentions removes blame from Tweedy. Another possible interpre tation of the lyric is that Tweedy was using a clever twist of words. The first time that line appears, Tweedy sings, You know she begs me


63 not to miss her. He may be creatively cont rasting the opposites miss and hit. None of these interpretations is necessarily inform ed by Tweedys actual in tentions, yet in each case, the listener attributes Tweedys intention to the lyric. Each interpretation would have a very real consequence on how Tweedy would be known according to that witness. Coming to know someones identity requires attributing intent ions to actions. The concept of personal identity is co mplex. Pinpointing a formula to defining ones identity is virtually impossible. Ph ilosopher Alasdair MacIntyre understands the importance of intentions and narratives to the conception of ones identity. He writes, There is no such thing as behavior, to be identified pr ior to and independently of intentions, beliefs and settings (194). Acti on becomes meaningful when it is explained within the context of a narrative. Dylans action in Dont Look Back only makes sense or becomes intelligible (196) once it is placed in the context of a narrative. Following MacIntyres reas oning, it would be impossible for spectators to separate Dylans actions in Dont Look Back from his life story or his identity. The viewer necessarily assumes that these actions reflect who Dylan is (a narrative identity assumption). The viewer does not assume that Dylan was simply reacting to his environment (a behaviorist assumption). Dylan s actions become part of his narrative, either the story he tells or the story others associate wi th him. It is the way we understand our own lives (MacIntyre 197) that leads viewers to see Dylans actions in 1965 as a result of his character and his narr ative, rather than as a reaction to the environment or as a young man trying to make his way through some difficult situations.


64 The shifting nature of ones overall narrative highlights the way ones identity can be altered. Writing about the constructed nature of personal identity, Alan Parry writes: It needs to be realized that a story is not a life, only a selection of events about a life as influenced by that pe rsons beliefs about herself and others. Thus, it becomes possible to use the stor y to re-invent, revise or otherwise re-write the story of the persons past. (43) As we consider the difference between Dont Look Back and No Direction Home the latter is overtly constructed, and as one fa n said, the ideas presented are intended. No Direction Home is not Dylans life. It leaves out important information about his marriages, children, and countless other important people and events in his life. Dylans life, like everyones lives, cannot be captured fully on film. Rather, Scorsese provides us with a story a selection of events. Of c ourse, the same could be said of Pennebakers film. There was much footage that Penneba ker was unable or unwilling to show. Yet the presentation of Dont Look Back was as a fly-on-the-wall, obs erving real life, attempting to deny the cameras influence and the directorial choices. No Direction Home alternatively, openly admits that this stor y is built upon the memory and interpretation of those involved in the story. Scorseses film demonstrates Parrys claim as it retells Dylans story to create a different past. Even Pennebaker understood how Dylans identity was seen as something that was shifting, ephemeral, and only slightly gras ped on film. He said dur ing an interview in No Direction Home :


65 We showed [Dylan] the first rough cut [of Dont Look Back ]. What he saw must have made him look like he was bare bones. And I think that was a big shock to him. But then he saw, I think the second night, he saw that it was total theater. It didnt matter. He was like an actor and he suddenly had reinvented himself as the actor within this movie, and then it was okay. According to Pennebaker, Dylan looked at his ac tions in the film as a performance, rather than an accurate representa tion of how he really is. To come up with Dylans identity is as difficult as it would be to label one for you or me. Dylan is a multi-faceted man, one fa n wrote. Another wrote, The man's built a whole career on having an ever changing image. Dylans identity cannot be based solely on two weeks as a twenty-four year old, nor can his identity be based on a documentary selectively chronicling his rise to stardom. These films claim to capture his identity, though such a feat is impossible. The discussion of personal identity raises many questions. Did Dylans identity change as he began to appreci ate the power of rock n ro ll over the folk song? When Dylan lied about his past, did that become his identity? These are questions that are beyond the scope of this study, but they highlight the fact that one s identity is in constant interplay between many forces. Paul Ricoeu r describes this as a struggle between concordance and discordance, between our pl ans and the unpredictable events of our lives (Ricoeur 141). Mikhail Bakhtin describe s it as the pull of the centripetal and centrifugal forces of language: Every utterance participates in the unitary language (in its centripetal forces and tendenc ies) and at the same time part akes of social and historical


66 heteroglossia (the centrifugal, stratify ing forces) (Bakhtin 272). Language simultaneously distinguishes us from and unites us with those around us. Bakhtin believes that these forces of language are necessary for the understanding of identity. He writes, I achieve self-cons ciousness, I become myself only by revealing myself to another, through another and with anothers help (qtd. in Baxter & Montgomery 25). Because of this on going interplay (Baxter & Montgomery 26) between the centripetal a nd centrifugal forces of language, the self is in a constant state of becoming and constantly influenced by others. Impossible to document completely on film, Dylans identity can only be presente d rhetorically by Pennebaker and Scorsese. Because Dont Look Back provides very little narrativ e, it becomes the viewers duty to provide one. Failing to conceptualize a narrative would result in finding the film unintelligible (and this is not an uncommon conclusion). There are, of course, myriad narratives one could come up with to find Dylans actions intelligible. This is in fact what many of the fans I interviewed did. As I will discuss further in the chapter, the fans provide narratives and ascribe intent ions to explain Dylans actions. No Direction Home provides a narrative. By showing Dylans upbringing in northern Minnesota, by talking about his high school bands, and by telling stories about his days as a college student at the Univer sity of Minnesota, Scor sese shows the human side to the artist. By showing Dylans rise to stardom in New York City and the creation of his first albums, Scorsese shows the geniu s of Dylan. By explaining repeatedly that Dylan was a drifter who never felt at home, Scorsese creates a sympathetic response to Dylan. By showing him heckled by fans, booed by the folk community at Newport, and hassled by the press, Scorsese shows that Dylans behavior coul d be blamed more on


67 those around him than on Dylan himself. The narrative that Scorsese presents makes Dylans actions intelligible in a specific way, so as to exonerate him from the blame many placed on him after Dont Look Back. Depicting Dylan as an artist in transiti on is key to changing the way he comes across in No Direction Home When one considers the pe rsonal crisis that often accompanies such a transition, it becomes cl ear why Dylan lashed out at those who mislabeled or misunderstood him. By framing hi s action within the narrative of an artistic transition, the blame is again shifted from Dylan onto those who were not up to speed with his creative development. The film seems to say, Dylan kept moving forward, and the fans, folk community, and press moved too slowly to keep up with him. By retelling these events in the framework of a different narrative in No Direction Home Dylans actions seem to make sense. His faults seem more like virtues. His lyrics seem more like prophecies. And these films taken together se em as close to the real Dylan as his fans will ever get. Dont Look Back Dont Look Back provides a static image of Dyla n. By showing him in a relatively short amount of time, the viewers are unabl e to witness any major changes. His mood goes up and down, but a particular image of Dylan emerges. Dont Look Back demonstrates a ruthless side of Dylan. The scenes in which Dylan seems rude, arrogant, and obdurate the backstage inte rview with the science student, the interview with the reporter from Time Magazine, and the incident in the hotel room with the glass are the


68 most memorable. Dylan dodges questions a nd plays games with the reporters who interview him, making jokes about the light bulb in his hand, lying about not writing while on tour, and questioning whether we have a common definition of the word people. It is these scenes that seem to ge t lodged in the viewers minds, especially for those who are barely, if at all, Bob Dylan fans. As an example of the way this film was typically received by mainstream press, Roger Ebert calls Dylan immature, petty, vindictive, lacking a sense of humor, overly impressed with his own importance and not very bright (par 2). Viewers may almost feel embarrassed as Dylan demonstrates this side. His vicious attacks on the Time reporter and the science student are hard to watch. These men think they are doing their jobs, getting a story about what many consider the best songwriter of a generation, having a conversation with the man who penned compassionate works like Blowin in the Wind and Only a Pawn in Their Game. As depicted by Pennebakers film, they seem find an arrogant young man who is more interested in elevating himself by pushing dow n on those around him. The more they try to find the man they thought they were interv iewing, the further away they seem to be pushed. These less than flattering scenes are the ones cited by Ebert during his scathing review. It is a curious thing that these scenes make the lasting impression rather than the many scenes in which Dylan shows kindness, wit, and appreciation to those around him. A possible reason for the conclusion that Dylan is mean and angry comes from the gravity that each of these scenes is gran ted. The scene in which Dylan ridicules the science student runs over eight uninterrupted minutes. In a film that is ninety-six minutes


69 long the scene with the science student take s eight percent of the film. At over six minutes long, the interview with the Time reporter takes six per cent of the film. These two intense scenes take up nearly fifteen percent of the films total running time. Combined with almost three minutes of figh ting over the thrown glass in the street and over six minutes of watching Dylans manager Albert Grossman shamelessly negotiating for more money for a Dylan appearance on tele vision, nearly a quarter of the film is devoted to these four scenes. What really gran ts them gravity is not the overall length of time, but the uninterrupted aspect of them. By using few cuts during these scenes, the viewer interprets these as life as it happene d, granting credibility and authenticity to each scene. The unedited quality also empha sizes the unrelenting nature of Dylans attacks. The deriding of the Time reporter also came at an impor tant point in the film. The scene appears in the 78th minute of the film and ends six minutes later. The proximity to the end of the film not only creates a more lasting image of Dylan, but also implies a climax. It surely is the most climactic interview with the press. Dylan challenges the reporter: Youre going to die. So am I. I mean, were just gonna be gone. The worlds gonna go on without us. Alright now, you do your job in the face of that and how seriously you take yourself, you decide for your self. If cultural critic Jeanne Halls analysis is correct, Pennebak er was trying to accomplish two goals: to implicate the mainstream press of distorting the truth and to promote the cinema verite movement as a better way to get closer to the truth. Penne baker rhetorically put Dylans potent and unrelenting criticism of the press at the climax of the film. Even Dylans own definition of the truth a definition with which he visibly struggles fits Pennebakers agenda:


70 The truth is just a plain pi cture. Pennebaker and other ci nema verite filmmakers could not agree more. Pennebakers rhetorical placemen t of this scene contributed to the lasting impression of Dylan as an angry young man. Dylan also spent much of his time with his nose in a newspaper, reading reviews and articles about his concerts. It becomes clear that Dylan has become very interested in what other people have to say about him and about the impre ssion he makes in the press. He seems concerned about image and pop ch art placement, publicity and money, fame and fortune. A dissonant image fr om the proletariat singer pres ented in the short clip of Dylan singing Only a Pawn In Their Game dur ing the civil rights ra lly in the South. This apparent interest in the material th ings his music has brought him sets up another discordance between Dylans newest philos ophy and the idealistic phi losophy of the folk movement. Dylans interest in rock n ro ll, his media image, and pop chart positions added credence to the idea that Dylan was changing for the worse, becoming selfabsorbed, and caring only for himself and material things. In a hotel room scene, the hotel manage ment appears at Dylans door to inform the group of some complaints and asks them to keep the noise to a minimum. After some words are exchanged between Grossman and the hotel employee, Grossman finally shouts, Youre one of the dumbest asshole most stupid person Ive ever met. If this were someplace else, Id punch you in your goddamned nose. While Grossmans actions do not necessarily represent Dylan, the viewers might interpret this as one more aspect that is unpleasant about Bob Dylan. Fo r an audience to leave the film thinking that Dylan is a self-absorbed, arrogant jerk does not come as a shock.


71 This is not to say that there are not several moments when Dylan appears to be personable, friendly, humble, and appreciativ e. There are many scenes in which Dylan speaks fondly with fans who wish to show their appreciation of him. He treats the High Sheriffs Lady with respect and honor. When on stage, there is a charm and magnetism that comes out. If one were trying to find the true Dylan, a case could be made for that being the one on stage. However, because of th e gravity, length, and timing of the scenes in which Dylan is rude, many viewers leave the film with an unpleas ant view of Dylan. Dont Look Back functions as a snapshot of Dyla n at a unique time in his life. Dylan is transitioning. As Dylan-biographer William McKeen explains it, Dont Look Back shows us the new Bob Dylan. Hes the 1965 Bob Dylan, but when he goes on stage [the fans] want the 1964 Bob Dylan (Personal Interview). The Bob Dylan is extremely politically aware. He writes songs like Blowin in the Wind, With God on Our Side, The Times They Are a-Changi n, and other so-called protest songs. He requires no more than an acoustic guitar and a harmonica to accompany his songs. Any other instrumentation would only distract from the important lyrics, the essential message, he wishes to communicate. He embodies everything the folk community would want civil rights compassion, anti-war passi ons, and a distrust of anything labeled commercial. But the Bob Dylan appears to be dead and gone. His remains are found in the grooves of some much celeb rated vinyl records and in th e hearts of those searching for a voice for their concerns. After a few minutes of watching the Bob Dylan, one gets the feeling that the 1965 version wants very little to do w ith the 1964 version. This new Dylan doesnt worry about being too commercial. In fact record sales and pop


72 charts have caught his interest He is not concerned with people understanding his lyrics. In fact when asked whether he thinks his fans understand his lyrics, he prefers to crack a joke. The new Bob Dylan is interested in electric guitars and in having a good laugh. The 1965 Bob Dylan writes rock n roll song s like Subterranean Homesick Blues, Maggies Farm, and Bob Dylans 115th Dream, and will soon write the much celebrated rock hits Like a Rolling Stone, Highway 61 Revisited, and Ballad of a Thin Man which appear on his next album. Clues of Dylans transition can be seen throughout the film. He gets treated to a rock stars welcome everywhere he goes. Screaming fans follow him to and from concerts, push their way closer to him, and ev en latch onto his car as he drives away an honor at that time only bestowed upon groups such as the Beatles. The performances speak loudly. Dylan seems to rush through th e much loved songs The Times They Are a-Changin and The Lonesome Death of Ha ttie Carroll. The latter song recounts the murder of Hattie Carroll at the hands of William Zantzinger and the subsequent trial. After each verse documenting a different part of the saga, Dylan reminds people now aint the time for your tears. It is only after the verdict is read, a ridiculously small six month sentence, Dylan sings, now is the time for your tears (Line 47) Yet Dylans performance of this moving song, caught by Penne baker as he lay on his back before the singer, seemed rushed and unemotional. Dylan gave the crowd just want they wanted a reenactment of the 1964 Dylan. The performances that seemed most im portant to Dylan were songs from his latest record, Bringing It All Back Home. Dylan sang Its Alright, Ma (Im Only Bleeding) with as much passion as he seemed to be able to muster. Singing So dont


73 fear if you hear, / a foreign sound to your ear (Line 21-22), Dylan announces his shift. A new sound is coming, he seems to be sa ying, Dont be alarme d. It should be no surprise that Dylan was bored with the ol d standards of his repertoire and more passionate about his most recent songs. In one scene, Dylan walks past a mu sic store advertising the sales of his Subterranean Homesick Blues record. This store has electric guitars in the windows. Dylan stops to look and says, They dont have guitars like these in the states. The new Dylan is much more interested in the electric guitars than the old Dylan would have been. While conversing with the young band that plays Dylan covers, Dylan is less interested in their discussion about getting the audience to appr eciate the lyrics as he is in the way they arrange the rock versions of his songs, si gns of his new outlook towards music. As Dylan, Grossman, and his entourage ride in the back seat of a car leaving Royal Albert Hall, the film neatly comes to an end the finale concert is over, the tour is ending, and Dylan and his company are ready to head home. At this moment, Pennebaker poignantly flashes the title of the film on scr een. At the end of the tour, the viewers are reminded again not to look back. Not only has this concert, tour, and film ended, this version of Dylan has officially said goodbye Like a Rolling Stone hit the record store shelves only months after this moment. Bob Dylan and the world of rock n roll music would never be the same. The title of the film suggests that the changes we are witnessing are permanent and important. Th ere is no need for much reflection or nostalgia. Looking back would only pale the vividness of the present. As viewers watch Dylan on screen, they mu st decide for themselves who this man is. They must attach intentions and mean ing to these actions. By considering these


74 intentions, the viewers tend to make overall judgments on Dylans character, morality, and personal identity. Because this film shows Dylans actions, both on stage and off, and little else, the audience must make their co nclusions based entirely on those actions and the motivations and intentions behind th em. Dylans identity as presented in Dont Look Back depends on the interpretation of those watching. No Direction Home Rather than giving us a still image of the past, Scorsese offers a moving image. We dont simply see Dylan during a transition, we see the entire transi tion, the before and after. Scorsese, through interviews with Dyla n and his colleagues, o ffers rationalizations and explanations of Dylans actions something Pennebaker did not. The result is that Dylans image is more controlled and carefu lly presented to the viewers. To do this, Scorsese layers his film with three impor tant time periods. First, the present is represented by seeing Dylans aging face and hearing his road-worn voice narrate the film. We see Joan Baez with graying hair a nd Bob Neuwirth looking like a shadow of the energetic young smart-aleck shown in Dont Look Back. Pete Seeger looks closer to the nursing home than the stage, and the rest of Dylans friends l ook nearly elderly. Scorsese also shows us the past. Begi nning in small town northern Minnesota, we are shown the upbringing and genesis of this man so revered. From high school yearbook pictures to never-before-heard home recordi ngs, we travel with Dylan through the north woods of Minnesota to the university campus in Minneapo lis, finally stopping in New York City. The images of a baby-faced Dylan playing his songs in New York coffee


75 shops or recording his earliest records at Columbia studios demonstrate fixed moments in Dylans past. There is another time period Scorsese re presents. Using flash-forwards, Scorsese shows us the past-future the important events to come in Dylans life. Seven of these flash-forwards appear in the film, six of which take place in the first part of the film. These appear between ten to twenty minutes ap art, rarely lasting more than two minutes. We see images of Dylan playing on stage wi th the Hawks, jawing with disapproving fans, and playing solo-acoustic songs during his tumultuous 1966 tour of Europe. These flashforwards create dramatic tension between the calm images of Dylans seemingly inevitable rise to stardom a nd the disruptive images of his raucous 1966 European tour. It is an hour and fourteen minutes into the second part of the film, over three hours into the entire film, with only thirteen minutes remaining that the narrative of Dylans story catches up to these dramatic flash-forwards. Yet more than simply providing the film with dramatic tension, these images solidify the overriding picture of Dylan. Scorsese did not provide footage of the concerts that were well-received during that time. (And there were some.) He did not provide clips of fans and press praising the ingenuity a nd creativity of Dylan and his new sound. (And there were some.) He also did not provide much reasoning for the poor reception the fans were giving Dylan and the Hawks. These images complement the idea that Dylan was misunderstood by his audience. The film suggest s that people tried to put Dylan in a box, labeling him a protest-singing-dustbowl-folkst er. From early on, Dylan resisted labels. This resistance ultimately manifested itself in some of the most aggressive rock n roll music of the time. The contrasting images, betw een the present, past, and past-future lead


76 to an understanding of Dylan as a homeless troubadour, wandering the streets of Hibbing, Minneapolis, New York, and finally theaters in Europe, searching restlessly for his home. Scorsese is no doubt a master filmmaker. His flair for drama makes this story something much more than a simple biogr aphy. It becomes an epic narrative of chronicling the undeniable rise of the most ta lented songwriter in the world. The use of the flash-forwards and silence at poignant ti mes (during a violent section demonstrating the troubled times of the 1960s, during a car ri de through snowy weather near the end of the film, as the crowd lines up before the fi nal concert) create a sense of drama found in fiction films. No Direction Home has a rhetorical goal: to ti dy up Dylans image during the 1960s. Much of the damage done to his image took place during Dont Look Back. Dylan had changed from the idealistic folksinger of the early s to the materialistic rock singer of the mid-s. As presen ted above in my analysis of Dont Look Back, to many viewers, Dylan comes across as selfish, arrogant, and mean in Dont Look Back. Scorsese accomplishes this disabusing by making some claims about Dylan in the 1960s. First, he portrays Dylan as a wandering soul, never ab le to find the peace of being home. Second, Scorsese shows how Dylan was severely mis understood and mislabeled by his fans, the folk community, and the press. This affect ed Dylan and led him to write, How does it feel/To be on your own/With no direction home/Like a complete unknown/Like a rolling stone ( Highway 61 Revisited ). The title of Scorseses film announces the first major technique to reframe Dylans actions in Dont Look Back Bob Dylan is a lost soul searching for home. This theme is important to unders tanding who Dylan is and w hy he acted the way he did.


77 Scorsese highlights this theme by starting the film with a leng thy quote from Dylan which ends, I was born very far from wher e Im supposed to be and so Im on my way home. This theme resurfaces several times thr oughout the film. Dylan describes the first time he heard Driftin Too Far from the S hore from one of his fathers old country music records: The sound of the record made me feel like I was somebody else. And that I was maybe not even born to the right parents or something. Life in Hibbing didnt satisfy the artist in young Dylan. He knew that this wasnt where he was supposed to be that there were bigger th ings in store for him. He sa id, I began listening to the radio; I began to get bored being there. As soon as the opportunity arose, Dylan left Hibbing. He said, Got out of high school and left the very next day. Id gone as far as I could in my particular environment. Even while in Minneapolis and New Yo rk, he denied that his journey began where it should have. He said, I just dont feel like I had a past. And I couldnt relate to anything other than what I was doing at the present time. He claimed to be a musical expeditionary with no past really to sp eak of, nothing to go back to, nobody to lean on. During a performance in 1966, before Dyla n played Ballad of a Thin Man an audience member shouts, Go home! One is left to wonder whether Dylan had any idea of just where home might be. The viewer feels a kind of sympathy fo r a man with no home. A visibly burnedout Dylan near the climax of the film and of his 1966 tour of Europe tells a reporter: I want to go home. You know what home is? I dont want to go to Italy no more. I dont want to go nowhere no more. You end up crashing in a


78 private airplane in the mountains of Tennessee. Or Sicily. [] I just want to go home. Ever the musical historian, Dylan alludes to the many deaths that have taken place on the road. This reference mythologizes the idea of being on the road, but nonetheless supports the theme that Dylan was a wandering soul st ruggling to find his home. Certainly, a life on the road was not home. Scorsese establishes the second theme of a misinterpreted and misunderstood Dylan by giving constant reminders of the ways Dylan was mistreated. The first half of the film, lasting nearly two hours, shows Dy lan on his rise to stardom. It seems like destiny when Dylan first heard country music in Hibbing, met folk music enthusiast Paul Nelson in Minneapolis, and found Woody Guthri e on records and in New York. Dylans rise was inevitable, propelled by his own geni us. While this is a familiar story to most Dylan fans, Scorsese continually foreshadowed the events that were in Dylans near future. During the flash-forwards to Dylan s 1966 European concerts, Scorsese shows how fans criticized and taunted Dylan. Fans called him a traitor, referred to his music as rubbish, told him to go home, and referre d him to as a bastard and a prostitute. For all his greatness, Dylans fans had turned on him during what many now consider the pinnacle of his musical career. During his rise to fame, Dylan received overwhelming accolades from the press and the folk community. An obviously su rprised and embarrassed Dylan sat through lavish praise during The Steve Allen Show Allen read a few quotes from the press, one saying, Genius makes its own rules, and Dylan is a genius. A singing conscience and moral referee as well as a preacher. This t ype of hyperbolic praise started to become


79 common to Dylan. The film makes clear that he did not want to be considered a conscience and moral referee or a preacher, a genius or a poet. He was a songwriter, and when people began to expect more than just songs, he felt like he was being misunderstood. Folk concert promoter and manager Howa rd Leventhal understood Dylans role in the folk community: There was Woody Guthrie, transition to Pete Seeger who carried on Woodys tradition. Now who was to carry on from Pete Seeger? And in the spot, really, came Bob Dylan. Dave Van Ronk said, It s almost enough to make you believe in Jungs notion of collective unconscious. That if there is an American collective unconscious [] that Bobby had somehow tapped into it. Dylan was introduced at the Newport Folk Festival: He came to be as he is because things needed saying and the young people were the ones who wanted to say them. He somehow had an ear on his generation. I dont have to tell you. You know him; hes yours, Bob Dylan. As the first part of the film came to a clos e, Peter Yarrow, after singing Blowin in the Wind with Dylan at Newport, said, I would li ke to say that he has a finger on the pulse of our generation. Such over-the -top praise created demands and expectations that Dylan was not interested in and probably incapable of fulfilling. The first pa rt of the film shows the audience just how great Dylan was and leaves them wondering how his fans could have turned on him so quickly. The second part of the film begins by introducing a new theme. Dylan responds to a question during a 1966 interview about his departure from protes t songs by saying, All


80 my songs are protest songs. This cryptic rema rk is just one of many that demonstrated how Dylans relationship with the press deteriorated. By dodging, i gnoring, or ridiculing the questions, Dylan demonstrates the pr esss inability to understand him. The first half of the film demonstrated Dylans rise to stardom, his critical acclaim, and his undeniable greatness. The s econd part of the film shows just how misinterpreted Dylan was. Despite writing such powerful songs championing the very ideals of the Left, Dylan resisted getting involved in politics. During his acceptance speech at an awards banquet by the progressi ve Emergency Civil Liberties Union, Dylan referred to politics as trivial. Older Dylan said, To be on the side of people who are struggling for something doesnt necessa rily mean you are being political. Scorsese demonstrates that when Dyla n shifted from socially-minded folk songs to inward-looking rock n roll songs, people were disappointment in him. Leventhal said, When Bob began to ignore topical mate rial, it bothered me because he wrote such marvelous material. And suddenly to have st opped that meant that he was going away from a political consciousness that we felt we all had. Dylan was no longer living up to the expectations of the folk community. The relationship between Dylan and the folk community finally came to an end at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. Headlin ing the show, Dylan, backed by the Mike Butterfield Blue Band, played only three songs, Maggies Farm, Like a Rolling Stone, and a version of the song that would become Its Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry. The rock n roll music wa s too much for the sound system. The music sounded muddy; the lyrics unintelligible. The myth of this event has lingered. Many said that Pete Seeger was livid, swinging an ax e madly and threatening to cut the microphone


81 cables. Seeger claims that he was merely disappointed with the sound quality, not the style of music. After the three songs, Dy lan and his band left the stage. With a disappointed crowd, due in part to the short le ngth of the headlining performance, in part to the poor sound quality, and in part to the nature of rock n roll music, Dylan was persuaded to play an encore accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. Dylan played Its All Over Now Baby Blue as his fa rewell to the folk community. Perpetuating the idea that Dylan made hi s final stand before the folk community, Scorsese dedicates twelve minutes to the even ts that took place that night in Newport. The twenty minutes on stage became symbolic of the new Dylan. By playing those three songs backed by an electric blues band, Dylan made a statement that was, to many, more than just about music. It was about id eology. It was about va lues and morals, right and wrong. By playing those songs, so the myth goes, Dylan put himself directly at odds with the rest of the folk community. By devoting so much time to the event, Scorsese marks it as a major, if not the major, event in Dylans career. The folk community did not like the ne w music Dylan was playing. Peter Yarrow said, It was not possible to sh are the kind of intimacy that we were sharing with folk music when youve got those electric inst ruments going. The film makes clear that intimacy was not what Dylan was trying to ach ieve anymore. Minneapolis folk collector Paul Nelson said, Rock n roll was considered a real sellout music for a lot of folk fans and Like a Rolling Stone seemed like the di rect slap in the face to everything that topical songs represented. [] It was not Better World A-coming. Scorsese portrays a Dylan who would not allow himself to be pushed into a label. Dylan thought of himself as just a songwrite r and wanted to be known only for that. He


82 resisted becoming the trained seal (as Allen Gi nsberg put it in the film) for the Left. He was not interested in politics like Baez hoped he would be. Just when the folk community anointed him king of the folk world and successor to Guthrie and Seeger, Dylan plugged in his Fender Stratocaster and rock n roll ed the misleading titles right out of their mouths. To emphasize the futile attempt to label Dylan, Scorsese dedicates five minutes near the end of the film to the press a nd their incompetence. One young reporter asks Dylan the silly question, Do you prefer songs with a subtle or obvious message? The reporter later admitted that she got the question from a movie magazine. Another reporter asks Dylan how many protest singers are working today. To which Dylan responds, I think theres about 136. When asked to clarif y, Dylan responds, Its either 136 or 142. Another reporter asked, Don t you think your first records were much better than the ones you do now? These questions were either impossible to answer or unworthy of one. Older Dylan said, At a certain point, people s eemed to have a distorted, warped view of me. Directly following the interview in which Dylan claims he just wants to go home, Scorsese flashes this sentence on a black screen: On July 29, 1966, shortly after returning from his European tour, Bob Dylan was in a motorcycle crash. Scorsese uses silence to build the tension as he shows the line of people waiting to get into the theater where Dylan was performing. The silence slow ly gives way to the sounds of Dylan and his band talking before they go on stage. As Dylan walks onto the stage, an audience member shouts Judas! The climax of th e drama arrives with the Judas! taunt, comparing him to the ultimate traitor. Dylan responds by saying, I dont believe you.


83 Youre a liar. He turns to his band behi nd him and says, Play it f---ing loud, and launches into a biting rendition of Like a Rol ling Stone. By screaming the lines, Once upon a time you dressed so fine/Threw the bums a dime, in your prime/Didnt you? Dylan seemed to be saying, You think Im J udas? Well, youre no Christ. In the film, the fans seem like the ignoran t ones who are missing the point, and Dylan seems to take the brunt of their ignorance. By highlighting the Judas incident, Scor sese points one final accusatory finger at those who just could not get Dylans ne w music. During the performance of Like A Rolling Stone, Scorsese flashes these words on screen: After the motorcycle accident, Bob Dylan continued to write and record songs He would not go back on tour for eight years. As presented in the film, the fans ignorance resulted in Dylans burn-out, his motorcycle accident, his hiatus from touring, and the end of some of the most creative rock n roll music ever made. Scorsese def tly leads the viewers to the conclusion that Dylans behavior was a result of those disres pectful fans who were too thick-headed to recognize the greatness and genius of the music pouring from Dylans body. Scorsese needed to be careful not to im plicate the documentary film audience. By focusing the attention on the fans in the 1966 concerts, the documentary film audience, along with Scorsese, could heap blame on those fans at those European concerts. True Bob Dylan fans, the ones who were watching the documentary film, knew or would have known better than those fans in 1966. No Direction Home goes a long way to try to purify Dylan of any wrongdoing in his past. By recasting Dylan as a victim rather than an attack er, all of Dylans behavior gets reframed. Scorsese creates an argume nt around the old footage and contemporary


84 interviews. By strategically juxtaposing im ages of Dylans 1966 tour in which he was often booed and taunted, images of the folk community heaping lavish praise upon him, images of the press trying to label him or demanding answers from him, Scorsese convinces the audience that Dylan is the misi nterpreted artist, and if he ever appeared rude, arrogant, aggressive, or mean, it was only a defensive reaction to his circumstances. Three groups, according to the film, seem to victimize Dylan. First, his fans turned on him during his live concerts in 1966. Taunting him from their seats, they demonstrated to Dylan just how much they di sapprove of his new style of music. Second, the folk community considered Dylan the most important figure of the folk revival. His shift to electric music put him at odds with th eir goals. Third, the pr ess labeled Dylan as a genius or conscience for a generation. They began to expect things that Dylan simply couldnt deliver. The way he acted in London in 1965, as documented by D.A. Pennebaker, was not entirely hi s fault. He was a victim of the situation. By explaining Dylans actions within the framework of a la rger narrative, Scorse se does more of the identity construction for the fans and provi des a less ambiguous, but more rhetorically constructed image of Dylan. Dylan, His Fans, and the Rhetorical Presentation of Identity Dylans history is complex and blurry, often blurred by his own resistance to reveal too much about himself. No one can deny the events that were documented by Pennebakers camera. Those events happened. Dy lan truly behaved that way. But what is left up to debate is what those events mean. In No Direction Home Dylan said, Words have their own meaning, or they have di fferent meanings and words change their


85 meaning. Words that meant something ten ye ars ago dont mean that now. They mean something else. The same can be said of those events. It is important to recognize who does th e work of identity construction during Dont Look Back. As discussed in the introduction to this chapter, ones identity, as understood by others is composed of actions and intentions. Dylan was ultimately in control of his actions. When interv iewed by the science student or the Time reporter, he could have easily blown them off or patiently given them what they were looking for. But instead he made the decision to be difficult, confrontational, and subsequently, more entertaining to a documentary film audience. As far as the actions are concerned, Dylan was in control. The intentions, as ascribed by the viewer s, are out of Dylans control. The way this film is presented, with no voice-over narrator and no further explanation or elaboration, the viewers must do the work of attributing intentions and motivations. Dylan may or may not know the reasons behind hi s actions, but to make sense of the film the viewers must conclude what those reasons are. Who Dylan is in this film is, in large part, up to the viewers. In order for viewers to understand and make sense this film, they need to confront Dylans actions, because that is all the film is. This involves coming to grips, to a certain degree, with why he acted the way he did. This burden of explanation is left to the viewers, not provided by Pennebaker. Pennebaker presents this footage as data, fact, or truth. The audience must analyze th e material to come to a conclusion a highly subjective process. In many ways, the fans I interviewed e xplained Dylans actions. Some excused him. Others blamed him. Still others seemed to enjoy his misbehavior. In every case, a


86 larger narrative or internal intentions were ascribed to Dylans behavior. One fan wrote, I just thought he was the coolest person on earth in the film. One fan explains, [ Dont Look Back ] is a portrait of a brash, somewhat s notty, but very hip young man. This is Dylan being Dylan type of reasoning. His actions needed little explanation because that is how most cool people would act. The fan al so considered him a rebel with a cause, framing his actions inside of an activist framework. Another fan claims, Ive always thought that he was acting in [Dont Look Back] to some extent though, because he knew the camera was on. It wasnt really Bob. It was him playing Bob. This theme resurfaces again in the interviews. Another fan said, He seems to have been a very different person than the one portraye d the Dylan acting his role in that film. One fan claimed: During [ Dont Look Back ] Bob is totally wearing his Bob Dylan mask, as he calls it and I believe its more who he thinks we should think he is and less who he really is.[] [ Dont Look Back ] is false and [ No Direction Home ] is true. That doesnt mean that [ Dont Look Back] is a lie, it isnt. Its just false, as all masks are. These fans are making sense of this film by c onsidering it a form of fiction. According to this line of reason, one should refrain from making any judgments about Dylans action. He was simply putting on a show. These fans have described a pa rticular narrative to explain his action. Another narrative described by his fans was that of an artist in transition. One fan called this time an amazing point in [Dylan s] career. Another eloquently described this turning point:


87 The whole genius of [ Dont Look Back ] is about the tension between Dylans reputation (which in early 65 was as a protest singer) and his emerging reality. So we see him start every show rattling off [The Times They Are a-Changin] to satisfy the masses before taking longer over songs like Gates of Eden from his new album. Another fan claims, Time has made [ Dont Look Back] more interesting, more revealing in an off-handed and subtle way, of the artist in transition. One fan even refers to this transition as a crisis for Dylan. Amid such personal and artistic turmoil, his actions are an inevitable reaction. By considering Dylans actions in the framework of a crisis, these fans have explained Dylans action and found positive meaning in the film. Others point to the nature of the music industry at that time as responsible for the way Dylan acted. One said: When I first saw Dont Look Back I was a bit shocked and taken aback at how callous and cruel Dylan seemed in it but then I realized that the music and journalistic biz was cruel and in or der to beat it at its own game he had to be crueler and tougher. He knew he had to be like that to survive or hed end up like [fellow folksinger] Donovan or the dozens of other folkies of that era, i.e. forgotten an d swept away by Beatlemania. Another referred to Dylan in Dont Look Back as the streetwise and scared fighter who lashed out at anything that moved, just in case it might prove to be a threat. In this narrative, Dylans actions were not mean. He was trying to survive. One fan rationalized the action by putti ng the blame on the filmmaker. He claimed, I dont think Pennebaker captured Dyla ns essence at all (o nly the portion of it


88 he wanted to portray the sneering iconoclast). It perpetuated a myth that Dylan is a distant even cruel man (quite untrue). The narrative to make sense of the action was that Pennebaker did Dylan wrong as he port rayed him in such a poor light. Up to this point we have let Penneba ker off the hook. We have discussed Dylans role in creating his own identity. He made important choices and could have chosen to behave in a certain way. We have discusse d the viewers responsibility in creating the meaning of the film. The attribution of in tentions or an overall narrative is the interpretive work of the audi ence. We must also discuss the important choices the filmmaker made when filming and editing the footage. Pennebaker and the rest of the cinema verite movement claim that they did not want to control meaning. They wanted to film life, demonstrate a truth, and leave the interpretation and meaning-making up to those who view it. Critic Jeanne Hall calls this philosophy into question by pointing out the impo rtant choices the filmmaker is forced to make. For example, by showing the beginning of what appeared to be a productive interview with Dylan, then cutting to archiv al footage, Pennebaker suggests, as Dylan later explicitly declares to the Time reporter, that the intervie w cant be any good (Hall 234). Here Pennebaker is stating his claim, that the press cannot present the truth accurately. This sequence flaunts itself most flagrantly and self-consciously as a directorial/editorial choice (Hall 235), thus denying the idea that Pennebaker had no agenda and was leaving the inte rpretation entirely up to the audience. He intended for the film to be interpreted a certain way. As discussed above, I have suggested that Pennebakers agenda of promoting the cinema verite movement over the flawed approach of mainstream press, as described by


89 Hall, influenced the way Dylan came across. In order for Pennebaker to argue his point, he had to show the media at its worst and Dylan at his most confrontational. By showing the scenes in which Dylan verbally attacked the reporters, by letting these scenes run in a lengthy and uninterrupted fashion, and by pl acing them near climax of the film, Pennebaker simultaneously condemns the press and portrays a vicious Dylan. Pennebakers role in the pres entation of Dylans identity should not be overlooked. Scorseses film does not claim to be as interpretation free as Pennebakers does. There is no question that we are getting so meones story of Bob Dylan. The use of interviews of people who are forty years removed from the events underlines the assumption that these are personal memories and the events are constructed from those memories. Yet the focus of this film seems to be setting the story straight, something Dylan was unwilling to do until recently. Over the last forty years, the events of Dont Look Back have been reframed to adjust Dylans identity the result is an image of an artist who was abused, misinterpr eted and mislabeled by the public. The two films show a significantly different Dylan. Of course the older Dylan in No Direction Home is wiser and calmer, but even the younger Dylan, the one we saw rise from the iron range of Minnesota to become one of the most beloved songwriters in America, seems different than the one in Dont Look Back. While Pennebaker didnt attempt to demonstrate Dylans motivations, Scorsese provides an outlet for Dylan to explain himself. One of the major differences between these films is that the viewers of Dont Look Back must interpret the events for themselves and in No Direction Home Dylan and his colleagues interpret the events for the viewer. Viewer s who have seen both films must reconcile the contras ting images provided by each film.


90 Many of the fans I interviewed recognized the controlled aspect of Scorseses film. One fan referred to it as more careful more scripted. One fan said that [No Direction Home ] is Bob trying to write hi s own legacy. One called No Direction Home a documentary where Dylan had much more c ontrol and concluded that this film, along with Chronicles: Volume One his XM satellite radio program, and the Bootleg Series live albums are all a part of a multi-media assault [] which lead to a number one album [2006s Modern Times ]. One fan called No Direction Home a much more professional (and hence sanitized) version of the story. The accuracy, or at least credibility, of the film seem s to be called into question. However, many fans fully buy into the new version of Dylan. One fan wrote that I hear many people say after seeing [ No Direction Home ] that they now understand Bob Dylan better; understand more why he is the way he is a nd how he sees the world and his legacy. [ Dont Look Back ] just muddied the water more. This fan also considers No Direction Home to be more accurate because Dylan is unmasked. The conclusion for this fan is that in Dont Look Back Pennebaker did not capture the real Dylan. He only filmed an actor. However, in No Direction Home the real Dylan shines through. Several fans appreciated the honesty a nd sincerity that Dylan presented in No Direction Home One referred to a different side to him, and one that I really like in No Direction Home Another plainly said, [ No Direction Home ] is a much better film [] and allows a much more rounded picture to emerge of the man and his art. Another claims that No Direction Home along with the radio show and Chronicles: Volume One feature Bob in a more candid light than ever before. Many of these fans consider this film to have captured an authentic version of Dylan.


91 Another fan appreciated Scorseses depiction of Dylan. By providing the explanations and intentions, Scorsese does not allow for th e misinterpretation of Dylan. This fan wrote: [ No Direction Home ] is a much better film [than Dont Look Back]. It shows Dylans humanity and humor as well as his exasperation at his fans dictates. It humanizes his imageallows a much more rounded picture to emerge of the man and his art. It is a wonderful film and I believe it redresses some of the damage done by Dont Look Back. Many of these fans seem to accept Scorseses presentation of Dylan as an accurate and appropriate depiction. A possible explanation for this is that Scorseses film confirms much of the popular literature available about Dylan. The claims that Dylan makes in Chronicles: Volume One coincide with much of the claims made in No Direction Home Because many of these fans already agreed with what was being presented, it only follows that they would fully accept it as accurate. Dont Look Back functions similarly to a photogr aph, freezing Dylan in a fleeting moment in time. The narrative behind the f ilm must be provided by the viewers. In No Direction Home the narrative is provided by Dylan a nd the spectators who witnessed the events take place. Scorsese crafts his film out of thei r memories and stories. The interpretive work of assigning in tentions has been done for the viewer. The viewer is then forced to judge the narrative and intenti ons and decide what to do with them. There are many strategies for viewers to confront a narrativ e when presented on film. As many fans did, they can full y accept the narrative. One fan wrote:


92 I was delighted with the film. I thought it showed the struggle that Dylan has (even to this day) with fans w ho want to own or change him. This seems to me to be a heroic struggl e and one that Scorsese captured the beginnings of brill iantly on film. Another wrote, Its a real insight into hi s multifaceted personality. Viewers can also reject the narrative presented in No Direction Home None of the Dylan fans that I interviewed rejected the narrative entirely. Scorsese presented the information authoritatively, but used credible sources like Dylan, Baez, Van Rank, and many other firsthand witnesses. There was no reason for most Dylan fans to reject the narrative provided in the film. Viewers can integrate th e narrative into their own version. One fan referred to Scorseses glossing over certain de tails of Dylans life: more details about the motor accident, or drug use. Another fan wrote, A Dylan expert should have been on board to make sure this definitive documentary was actually exhaustive as well as definitive. Another strategy is to modify the narrative in the film to fit what they have already considered true. On e fan wrote, I loved [ No Direction Home ] but, again, was not surprised by it. It confir med what I already knew. No Direction Home can easily be seen as the perfect partner to Dont Look Back, as one Dylan fan put it, because they discuss relatively the same time in Dylans life, but lead the viewer to different conclusions. Pennebaker tried to leave the conclusions completely in the hands of his audience, but many viewers found the film to function as an opprobrium, showing a darker side to the prince of protest. Many viewers of Scorseses film conclude that Dylan was indeed misinterpreted and misunderstood. By providing the rationale and cont ext of Dylans actions, Scorse se thereby explains Dylans


93 actions to the audience, showing that it was no t necessarily a bad side of Dylan, but that Dylan was in a bad situation. These films show Bob Dylan as a young ar tist struggling with his new position as a rock n roll icon. Yet they present different versions of Dylan. In Pennebakers film, Dylan appeared to be a vehicle to promot e Pennebakers own views on the current state of journalism. In charging the mainstream media of being unable to capture truth, Pennebaker also demonstrated a side of Dylan who could be vicious, spiteful, angry, and difficult. Scorseses film attempted to do the opposite. By providing the viewers with the appropriate context, Scorsese helped the a udience understand Dylan as a victim of the treatment by fans, the folk community, and the press. Pennebaker allo wed the audience to ascribe a narrative to Dylans actions in order to make sense of the film. Scorsese provided a narrative as told by Dylan and his colleagues, and challenged the audience to accept, reject, modify, or integrate that na rrative into their understanding of Dylan. The presentation of ones identity is comp licated in everyday life. On film the process gets even more complicated. These two films rhetorically presented Dylans identity, something that cannot be accurately depicted in the limited time available on film. Regardless of the presentation, the meaning of the film is ultimat ely in the hands of the audience. By ascribing inten tions or delivering a narrativ e, the audience is able to make sense of the images and draw conc lusions about the subjects of the film. Undoubtedly, Dont Look Back and No Direction Home provide Bob Dylan fans with a view of Dylan they would never receive from listening to his albums or even seeing him in concert. These films are an important part of the process of the fans understanding and co-construction of Bob Dylans identity.


94 CONCLUSION: THE DO CUMENTARY FILM AND EVERYDAY LIFE To demonstrate the cultural significance of an artist like Bob Dylan, I need only point out the overwhelming amount of informa tion available about him. Very few other cultural icons have re ceived this amount of attention. His music has been recorded by hundreds of other artists. It seems that each year a new tribute album comes out. With this much information and material available, the documentary film must offer something different than the rest of the information. By using a visual image, the documentary film is able to present informa tion in a uniquely engaging fa shion. The documentary film offers an alternative form of informati on dissemination that other mainstream media cannot. The documentary film, specifically the rock n roll documentary film, is important to the fans because it offers an alternative visual experience. A rock n roll documentary film offers a unique depiction of the world from one perspective in a way that a book, music vide o, record, or live c oncert cannot. Through providing a new way of seeing th ings, the documentary film allows the viewers to get close to an artist in an important way. The cap tivating part of these rock n roll films cannot simply be the music a record could do that. It cannot simply be the information a biography could do that. It can not simply be the pictures photographs could do that. These films represent all of those and more with a moving image of an artist. By offering an alternative visual experience, the documentary film plays an important role in the culture of the fans.


95 The documentary film provides an altern ative form of information. There is a level of credibility connected to such films. There are no commercials, no sales pitches and no interruptions a far cry from the news media of today. Television seems now to offer as little information between commercials as possible, hoping to entice the viewer to continue watching. Game shows and talent competitions build a sense of drama with music and lighting, but before the drama is resolved, the viewer must sit through three more minutes of commercials for Pepsi or C oke, Tide or Era, Buick or Ford, Budweiser or Miller. News magazines like 60 Minutes and 20/20 save the most interesting stories for the end, prompting viewers to watch the entire show, especially the commercial breaks. The mainstream media forces corporation afte r corporation into our minds so that the difference between programming and advertisemen t is either moot or indistinguishable. The documentary film comes across as the anti-commercialized form of information or entertainment, an alternative to the mainstream media. To ignore the large studio money and corporate sponsorships that can be associated with the making of a documentary film would be a mistake, but a documentary film offers an uninterrupted, presentation of a truth, of someones real ity. Independent filmmakers document their lives and the lives of others, offering a diffe rent view of the world, a highly visual and intimately personal view of the world. The complexi ty of an issue, topi c, or artist can be either simplified or further compli cated through the filming process. The documentary film, especially a film like D.A. Pennebakers Dont Look Back, allows a very unique and, at that time, innovative way to look at a subject. Pennebakers camera work would not be suitable for a Hollywood film or a network news program. The inaudible conversations, shaky camera wo rk, and poor lighting add to the credibility

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96 of the film and create an aesthetic that repr esents truth, accuracy, objectivity, journalistic integrity, and investigative tenacity. Docume ntary films offer alternative views of the world, and some fans depend on them for their information. The rock n roll documentary film also offers important visual images. The striking footage captured by D.A. Pennebake r in 1965 demonstrates this. Dylan looked surprisingly different than the baby-faced one that had appeared on the cover of his selftitled first record. In Dont Look Back he appeared more worldly, wiser, and harder. He looked different than the one walking arm-in-a rm with then girlfriend Suze Rotolo on the cover of his second record, The Freewheelin Bob Dylan He was no longer the sweet, innocent youth. He looked different than th e sober and stern image on the cover of his third album, The Times They Are A-Changin He wasnt as concer ned for others or as politically enraged. For many fans, the new image was strange and disconcerting. As the film moves along, Dylan seems further and furt her from those images offered earlier in his career. For many fans, Pennebakers depiction of Dylan was truly their fi rst look at Dylan as a human being rather than as Dylan the Artist. The film created a lasting visual image of Dylan Behind the Scenes. When fans heard a record, they could picture him singing. They saw how he scowled when he bi ckered with the scie nce student or smiled when joking with his friends. Watching Dyla n do the ordinary part s of his everyday life was an important aspect of these films. Ho w he lit a cigarette, how he typed at the typewriter, and how he read the newspape r on his hotel room bed are unimportant elements in his day to day life, but are impor tant elements to the lasting humanized image

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97 provided by the film. Bob Dylan the human is on display alongside Bob Dylan the rock star. The images provided by Scorsese in No Direction Home have a similar effect. The archival images of Dyla n show an earnest young man trying to make his imprint on a cutthroat and demanding industry. The images of Dylans 1966 European tour show the striking conflicts between Dylan and some of his less-than-faithful fans. Scorsese also uses iconic images of the times. He shows images John F. Kennedys motorcade, Mario Savios arrest, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington. These images stir up immediate and unavoidable emotions in the audience. When combined with Dylans music, these moments take on an important role in the story of Dylan and the identity that the audience attributes to Dylan. When the vi sual images are artfu lly shown with other images and powerful music, the emotional im pact of each element is elevated. Dylans A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall is a powerful song, but when Scorsese places it over an image of young John F. Kennedy, Jr. at his fath ers funeral it takes on an entirely new meaning. That is the power of the documenta ry film: its ability to blend moving image and sound; archival and contemporary footage to create new worlds a nd alternate realities in which the fans can further explore their relationship to the artist. The documentary film is an experience. It is an opportunity for the viewer to stand in the filmmakers place and view the world from another perspective. Bill Nichols calls this the performative mode of the documentary film (Nichols 130). He writes, Performative documentary seeks to move its audience into subjective alignment or affinity with its specific pers pective on the world (132). It is a way for the fan to have a virtual conversation with the icon, for the movi e theater to become a Royal Albert Hall in

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98 London, and for the neophyte fan to attend a ro ck concert in 1966. Another world can be captured on film, edited into ninety minutes, and projected on a screen for others to experience. This has been the goal and streng th of the documentary film since Robert Flaherty pioneered the genre with Nanook of the North. Flaherty allowed viewers living thousands of miles from the Arctic north to experience the lives of the Inuits. The documentary film is able to construct a visu al history, retell a story with moving images, and recreate an event for those who did not s ee it for themselves. By allowing viewers to experience a new world, taking them places they may never be able to visit, and showing them an event that will never recur, documentary films have the potential to affect an audience. The documentary film offers an alterna tive visual experience for the viewer. Dont Look Back and No Direction Home are only two in a line of documentary films about Bob Dylan. There have been several films documenting different tours and different periods in Dylans career. Because these two films were made by recognizable and talented filmmakers, they carry a level of importance beyond that of the other films. Dont Look Back was the first of its kind, the first roc kumentary to document a rock icon in the cinema verite style. No Direction Home has proven to be the definitive film chronicling Dylans rise to fame and the best use of Pennebakers 1966 European tour footage. These films are not just interes ting to Bob Dylan fans, but also are fine specimens of the documentary form. Of course, these films carry a special importance for the Bob Dylan fan. By showing Dylan at one of his most intere sting and creative peri ods, these films both provide the visual element that the records lack. These films also create an image of

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99 Dylan for the viewers. Dylan fans have take n a particular stance towards these films. During my interviews with Dylan fans, I quickly understood that they minimize the importance of these films in their relationshi p with Dylan. When I asked them directly, What do these films mean to your relationshi p to Dylan? many claimed that these films had little impact on their feelings for Dylan and his music. One fan said, I think most Dylan fans have a direct relationship with him through the albums hes that kind of artist. This sentiment recurre d throughout the interviews. One said, All we really need to know is contained within the music. Anothe r claimed that music is for sure the most important thing. Another fan feels so strongl y connected to Dylan and his music that he wrote: If there was never any movie made about him, no book written trying to explain him, or people sitting around deciphering his lyrics he would still be the most powerful songwriter to me and thats because every word he says I can relate to like I lived it. I feel like he has lived my life and is explaining it to me. According to the fans, these films do not ch ange the way Dylans music affects them. However, as I discussed in my third chapter, these films are important to the fans as they construct Dylans identity. They claim th e films are entertaining, but cannot offer anything to their experience as true Bob Dylan fans. When asked to discuss what these films meant to them as Dylan fans, they admitted that their conception of Dylan, the images that hold true for them, have been influenced by Pennebakers and Scorseses films. Although these fans minimized the impor tance of these films, these films have

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100 played a role in their interpretation of w ho Dylan is. His music is on his records. His identity is in these films. This is the power of the documentary film. Filmmakers are able to combine visual evidence, music, and information to artistical ly present a particular point of view or a particular reality. Through these images a udience members are taken to that world, presented with that reality, and forced to confront the images. In the rock n roll documentary, fans are provided with a look into the lives of the artist. As the fan sees the artists in such a light, an intimate relations hip is created. The fans can feel extremely close to the artist, while the artist is ofte n completely unaware of the fans sense of intimacy. The documentary film, specifically the ro ck n roll documentary film, allows the spectator the fan to explore their relati onship to the subject the artist in a seemingly intimate way. The films created an ar ena for the fan to get to know the subject on what appears to be a very personal leve l. The close shots during an interview create the feel of a one-on-one conversation. The in -studio or backstage bickering between band members allows the viewer into an area where most people are banned. These films allow the fans to ride in the tour bus, hang out b ackstage, sit-in during the studio session, and have a beer with the band after a show. All of this is generated by a filmmaker capturing the moment and representing that moment with visuals. The documentary film demonstrates a rea lity that would be otherwise impossible to know for the viewer. The viewers might be able to imagine the inner workings of a major tour, the backstage antics and sound ch eck performances, but the documentary film brings the viewers to these events, sits them in the center of the theater or concert hall,

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101 and shows them what the event is all about This alternative visual experience gives viewers an insiders look at the subject from a uniquely visual perspective. The documentary film plays an important role in the relationship between the subject and the viewer, the artist and the fa n. The visual imagery concretizes the musical connection between the artist and the fan. Seei ng the guitarist play, the singer move, and the drummer crash the cymbals creates a visu al memory that can become inseparable from the music. I am probably not alone in saying whenever I hear The Bands The Weight I picture Martin Scor seses capturing of the song on The Last Waltz The visual and musical images blended into one picture, one meaning. The documentary film provides a place for the fan to go to connect to the artist, experience the music, and appreciate the ar t form. Myths and legends are created and expanded, or debunked. Relationships are built upon the alternative visual experience; receiving information from someone on the insi de. The passage of information is subtle and artistic, but powerful and moving. The e xperience may be virtual and simulated, but the effect is similar to the live event. As music and image are combined, the affective aspect of each medium is compounded into an emotional visual and musical whole. The fan pays homage to the artist. The artist gi ves the fan a look into their world a view from the front row or backstage. In a documen tary film, the images of rock n roll are digitally printed on a five inch disk, shi pped around the world, and can be just as rebellious, subversive, persuasive, and meaningf ul to the viewer in a movie theater as to the fan at the concert. On film, the identity of the artist is as constructed and rhetorical as it always will be, but this is as close to the real artist as many fans will get. It may only be a virtual

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102 experience, but through these films, fans establ ish real connections to and interpretations of the artist. Dont Look Back and No Direction Home demonstrate the rhetorical presentation of identity. They claim to present the accura te depiction of the celebrity, but can only present a construction. Personal identity, in th e way I have been discussing it, is coconstructed by the self and othe rs. It is the way other people think of an individual who that person is. Aristotle describes the art of rhetoric as the available means of persuasion (Griffin 304). If an individual wants others to think of him or her in a particular way, he or she must rhetorically present their id entity in hopes of persuading those around to come to the desired conclu sion. This is one of the reasons why the punk rocker wears eyeliner and a mohawk hair cut, why the hip hop artist wears gold chains, or why the avid golfer dresses like Tiger Woods. Th ese actions have a rhetorical function: to convince others to interpret a partic ular identity about that person. While much of our personal identity has a rhetorical aspect to it, when on film, it is all rhetorical. There are many selections that must be made during the process of filmmaking: Whom to shoot; when; and where? What to focus the camera on in a particular room? Whom to microphone? Which scenes go into the f ilm; which are left out? Where to place scenes in the film? Thes e decisions are not unlike the composition of a speech. The speech writer and filmmaker must decide what evidence goes where, what points should be emphasized, and what should be ignored. Identity is rhetorical, and the documentary film is an ideal format for the rhetorical presentation of identity. Something as complex and ephemeral as ones identity cannot be accurately captured by a documentary filmmaker; it can only be presente d. This communicative

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103 event requires the interpretation of the audien ce the attaching of m eaning to particular portions of the presentation. This explains how two people can watch a film and have two completely different understandings of the subj ect, just like two pe ople can interact with an individual and have completely different opinions about that person. The rhetorical presentation of identity that takes place on a documentary film is exactly the same each time the film is shown. The difference co mes from the people who are doing the interpreting in the case of this study, th e fans. Each fan has come to know Bob Dylan in a particular way some by seeing him play in the early 60s in Greenwich Village before he became famous; others by listening to their parents old reco rds forty years into his career. In each case the individual will carry with him or her a contextual/interpretive screen through which they will interpret the te xt. Their likes and dislikes, age and gender, socio-political status, and ever y other aspect of their lives will be incorporated into how they interpret the images on screen. Dylans id entity, so to speak, is up to each individual audience member. The filmmaker, speech writer, or indivi dual presenting his or her own identity has a limited amount of control in the process. As I pointed out in chapter three, Pennebaker and Scorsese both contributed to the lasting interpretation of Dylan. The filmmakers give clues about what they think is important and accurate. The presentation becomes rhetorical when the presenter attempts to influence the interpretation or persuade the audience to adopt one opinion. Scorseses sele ctive use of archival footage helped lead viewers to the conclusion that Dylan was mi sinterpreted by the masses. In the same way, academics use their grandiloquent vocabulary to identify themselves as erudite scholars,

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104 and skateboards use terms to describe tricks that the layperson might never be able to decipher. The rhetorical presentation of identity is not something that only filmmakers do or that only celebrities might c onsider. It is a process a ll individuals engage when expressing ourselves to another individual, when we associate ourselves with a particular group, or when we attempt to distinguish ourse lves within that group. This is not to say that all action is rhetorical and intended to persuade. In fact, there are times when we might wish our actions did not represent our identity. But some of our action is meant to demonstrate who we are. This action is a rhetorical presentati on of our identity. The documentary films that I have studi ed have spoken directly to Bob Dylans identity. They have rhetorically shown us how we should interpret his actions. The communication of ones identity requires interpretation by ea ch individual through his or her contextual/interpretive sc reens. However, as demonstrated by these documentary films, we can offer clues, rhetorical devices, that might persuade ot hers to interpret our identity in a particular way. These films ar e clear examples of the way identity can be rhetorically presented, and this study has examined the way the fans interpret that presentation.

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105 ENDNOTES 1. There is some disput e over the apostrophe in Dont Look Back. The cover of the DVD and the title frame of the film exclude th e apostrophe. It appe ars in all caps: DONT LOOK BACK. In spite of this, Barnouw, Ellis and McLane, Hajdu, Hishmeh, Marcus, Nichols, and Riley all refer to the film as Dont Look Back apostrophe included. Both Hall and Sounes refer to it without the apostrophe as it appears on the film. Sounes addresses the issue briefly, quoting Pennebake r: It was my attempt [to] simplify the language (Sounes 171). I will honor Pennebaker by referring to the film without the apostrophe. 2. According to Nichols, the poetic mode emph asizes literary concepts such as tone, mood, and affect rather than rhetoric (103). The expository mode uses voiceover commentary to give the impression of objectivity and truthfulness (105). The observational mode arrived from the technol ogy of lighter, more portable cameras with synchronous sound. These films give the impre ssion of the fly-on-the-wall perspective of the action (109-111). The particip atory mode stems from the anthropological practice of entering the field and reporti ng what was found. These filmma kers participated in the world they are revealing to the audience ( 116). The reflexive mode often discusses the process and difficulty of representing the world on film (126). The performative mode attempts to get the audience not only to unde rstand, but experience the world in the way the filmmaker does (132).

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106 3. There are numerous occasions where a new technological advance spurred on a new style of art. The sync-sound, portable camer a designed by Pennebaker and his colleagues at Drew Associates led to the cinema verite/d irect cinema style that was so influential in the 1960s. When the sound and film were able to be linked up for the first time, fiction films were no longer silent f ilms set to music and captions, but were now called talkies and filled with dialogue. In music, when casse tte tapes were made available, a new form of music emerged from the streets. Rap artists were able to cheaply record and distribute their music on cassette.

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107 WORKS CITED Bakhtin, Mikhail. The dialogical imagination: Four essays by M.M. Bakhtin Ed. M. Holquist. Austin: U of Texas P, 1981. Barnouw, Erik. Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film. London: Oxford UP, 1974. Basic Dylan. Time. 12 Jan 1968: 50. Baxter, Leslie, and Barbara Montgomery. Relating. New York: Guilford P, 1996. Beebee, Thomas O. Ballad of the Apocal ypse: Another Look at Bob Dylans Hard Rain. Text & Performance Quarterly 11. (1991): 18-34. Bob Dylan. 2 March 2007. Bowden, Betsy. Performed Literature: A Ca se Study of Bob Dyla ns Hard Rain. Literature in Performance 3 (1982): 35-48. Carey, James W. Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. New York: Routledge, 1988. Corliss, Richard. When He Was on His Own. Time. 12 Sept. 2005. 13 Sept. 2006 . ---. Bob Dylan at 65. Time 24 May 2006. 13 Sept. 2006 . Dont Look Back. Dir. D.A. Pennebaker. Ashes and Sand, 1967. DVD. Pennebaker and Hegedus Films, 1999. Dylan, Bob. Chronicles: Volume One. New York: Simon, 2004.

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108 ---. Its Alright Ma (Im Only Bleeding). Bringing It All Back Home Columbia 1965. ---. Like a Rolling Stone. Highway 61 Revisited. Columbia, 1965. ---. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. The Times They are A-changin. Columbia, 1964. Ebert, Roger. Review of Don't Look Back. Chicago Sun-Times. 21 March 1968. 2 March 2007. Ellis, Jack C. and Betsy A. McLane. A New History of Documentary Film. New York: Continuum, 2005. Friedman, Lawrence S. The Cinema of Martin Scorsese. New York: Continuum, 1997. A Folk Hero Speaks. Time. 14 Nov. 1969: 58. Gamson, Joshua. Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America. Berkeley: U of California P, 1994. Gonzalez, Alberto, and John J Makay. Rhetorical Ascription and the Gospel According to Dylan. Quarterly Journal of Speech 69 (1983): 1-14. Griffin, Em. A First Look at Communication Theory. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2003. Hajdu, David. Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Ti mes of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Faria and Richard Faria New York: Farrar, 2001. Hall, Jeanne. Dont You Ever Just Wa tch?: American Cinema Verite and Dont Look Back . Documenting the Documentary: Close Readings of Documentary Film and Video. Ed. Barry Keith Grant and Jeanne tte Sloniowski, Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1998. 223-37.

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109 Heylin, Clinton. Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments: Day by Day: 1941-1995. New York: Schirmer, 1996. Hiatt, Brian. Bob Dylan Looks Back: Inside the making of No Direction Home, Martin Scorseses epic documentary. Rolling Stone 26 Sept. 2005. 13 Sept. 2006 . Hishmeh, Richard E. Marketing Genius: The Friendship of Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan. The Journal of American Culture 29.4 (2006): 395-405. I am my words. Newsweek. 4 Nov. 1963: 94-95. Jones, Janna. Confronting the Past in th e Archival Film and the Contemporary Documentary. The Moving Image (Fall 2004): 1-21. Kot, Greg. Rev. of Time Out of Mind by Bob Dylan. Rolling Stone. 2 Oct. 1997: 53-54. ---. Wilco: Learning How to Die. New York: Broadway, 2004. Let Us Now Praise Little Men. Time 31 May 1963: 40. Lethem, Jonathan. The Genius of Bob Dylan. Rolling Stone 7 Sept. 2006: 74-80, 128. MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue. Notre Dame: U of Notre Dame P, 1981. Marcus, Greil. Like a Rolling Stone. New York: BBS Public Affairs, 2005. ---. The Old, Weird America: The Worl d of Bob Dylans Basement Tapes. New York: Picador, 1997. Rpt. of Invisible Republic: Bob Dylans Basement Tapes. New York: Holt, 1997. Marshall, P. David. Celebrity and Power: Fame in Contemporary Culture Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1997. McKeen, William. Personal interview. 13 Sept. 2006. Morgenstern, Joseph. Face in the Crowd. Newsweek 21 Aug. 1967: 65.

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110 Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2001. No Direction Home. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Paramount, 2005. Parry, Alan. A Universe of Stories. Family Process 30 (1991): 37-54. Plantinga, Karl. What a Documentary Is, After All. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63.2 (2005): 105-17. Plasketes, George M. Rock on Reel: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Culture in America Reflected in a Decade of Rockumentaries. Qualitative Sociology 12.1 (1989): 55-71. Pop Prophet. Time 11 Aug 1967: 72. Rich, Frank. Hit Parade. Time 8 May 1978: 70-73. Ricoeur, Paul. Oneself as another. Trans. K. Blamey. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992. Riley, Tim. Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary New York: Knopf, 1992. Rothman, William. The Filmmaker as Hunter: Robert Flahertys Nanook of the North . Documenting the Documentary: Close Readings of Documentary Film and Video. Ed. Barry Keith Grant and Jeannette Sl oniowski. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1998. 23-39. Schickel, Richard. Clintons Weird Guy. Time 8 November 1993: 97-98. ---. Intimate Strangers: The Culture of Celebrity in America New York: Fromm, 1986. Scorsese, Martin. Scorsese on Scorsese. Ed. David Thompson and Ian Christie. 2nd ed. Faber and Faber: London, 1996. Sheffield, Rob. Rev. of Love and Theft by Bob Dylan. Rolling Stone. 27 Sept. 2001: 65-67. Sounes, Howard. Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan. New York: Grove, 2001.

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111 Stubbs, Liz. Documentary Filmmakers Speak. New York: Allworth, 2002. Taubin, Amy. From There to Here: No Direction Home Scorseses time-bending Dylan documentary, is the years best released that wasnt. Film Comment Nov.-Dec. 2005: 30-33. Wasserman, John L. Bob Dylan through a Lens Darkly. Life 11 Aug. 1967: 10. Wilco. Shes A Jar. Summerteeth. Reprise, 1999.


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