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Don’t Look Back (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Don't Look Back

Don’t Look Back


Featuring Bob Dylan, Albert Grossman, Bob Neuwirth, Joan Baez, Alan Price, Tito Burns, Donovan, Derold Adams, Chris Ellis, Allan Ginsberg, John Mayall, Howard Alk, Jones Alk and Marianne Faithfull.

Written by D.A. Pennebaker.

Directed by D.A. Pennebaker.

Distributed by New Video Group.  96 minutes.   Not Rated.

There are not nearly enough definitive rock and roll documentaries. Don’t Look Back, which originally came out in 1967, looks at Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of Europe, his last as a pure folk-singer before his infamous “electric” tour with the Band. Director D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop) was offered complete access to Dylan at the height of his popularity.

It is a warts-and-all portrait. You see all the sycophants and hangers-on that surround the singer. Often Dylan comes off as a self-important bully, particularly in scenes where he derides a British rock journalist and then-popular Dylan wanna-be folk singer Donovan. We’re not exactly talking tough targets here. Besides, these people are just trying to do their jobs and Dylan seems rather mean and spiteful for trying to hold himself so far above their heads.

Yet musically, he is hard to be denied. There are scenes like the famous cue-card version of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” that are still stunning in their pre-MTV simplicity. This new DVD release has some wonderful extras including five live audio tracks and a terrific new transfer (though strangely, it is not in letterbox format). Don’t Look Back is a fascinating look at a flawed man who just happened to be a music God at the time.  (7/01)

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2001 All rights reserved. Posted: July 4, 2001.

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