The Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan story by Martin Scorsese (2019)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

For a second time, Martin Scorsese brings us a look at one of the most secretive figures in music, Bob Dylan. No direction home was released in 2005 and focused on Dylan’s influences until the tour where he went electric. It was a great insight into Dylan although for me it focused too much on his influences and it’s halfway where we finally get to see more about Dylan. Now Scorsese takes us on a fascinating look at Bob Dylan on the tour he made in 75 and 76 called The Rolling Thunder Revue. Any film that shows Dylan live and even footage behind the scenes is great because unlike other artists, he does not do many interviews or even live a public life like other singers who engage in public activities. Dylan is almost a mystery; his work does the speaking and it speaks loudly. Anyone who spends time listening to his songs will see the talented writer he is. 

The film takes a look at the tour using footage that was recorded while the tour was going on. It really was a great look at how Bob one of the biggest artists at that time decided to invite other artists to play in small venues. Seeing the footage for the first time it really showed a free Dylan singing with so much force and out of character and using makeup. The songs he sang were mostly songs to be released on his next album Desire. The one thing I loved about the film is the fact that it showed a lot of performances. 

The film also provided a look at the poets’ scene and artist that performed in small clubs. That footage was great of Dylan playing there are listening in the crowd to the music. Scorsese did a great job at not just showing footage of the tour, he went deep and showed us the different stories behind the tour. There are scenes that are so intimate and revealing about Bob. There is one scene where Bob and Joan Baez are talking and the look in their eyed while they talk of why they married other people. 

Part of the spirit of the tour was the theatrics of the shows, and it seems they wanted a bit of that in the film. There are things in the film that are not true and it amazes me at how serious they all while being interviewed. Sharon Stone saying she worked on the tour while she was a young model, I admit I somehow believed it until I read that a few things in the film were not true. Now is a bit annoying but the good footage of Dylan makes up for that.  The insight into the song Hurricane and how he went to see Rubin Carter was really interesting. Even footage of president Jimmy Carter saying he learned through Bob about the social system was really interesting. 

Notable members of the tour were Roger McGuinn of The Byrds and Joni Mitchel who later joined the tour. The tour included a poetry reading by famous poets and other artist performing sets and Joan Baez. 

Bob Dylan is one amazing artist and a true poet and, on this tour, I think, by the footage I have seen of Dylan live, he gave some of his best performances, his voice sounded great and the playing was. Some of the songs that are shown include Mr. Tambourine Man, Isis, When I paint my masterpiece, Hurricane and many more. There is some priceless footage of rehearsals where they just played music seemingly for themselves. It really looked like Bob was enjoying some kind of freedom for big tours that he had done before. 

It is a great documentary that allows Dylan’s fans a look at a fascinating artist and his creativity and great performances. I liked this better than the No Direction Home film. It had a lot of interesting stories, not only of Dylan but also of those involved. I will be receiving soon my box set of cd’s of recordings made of that tour, I will review that also.

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