Friday, 16 January 2009

I'm Not There

I'm Not There . . . Released 21 Nov 2007

Is a tangled web of Bob Dylan's life portrayed by six characters representing different phases of the singers path in life.

12-year-old African American boy, Woody Guthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin) is riding the rails as a hobo carrying around a guitar labeled "This Machine Kills Fascists" as did the real Woody Guthrie, represents Dylan's admiration for the rock pioneer. Woody is traveling across country to fulfill his dream to be a singer.

An artist being interrogated and identifies himself as Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw), after the French poet that Dylan idolized. Arthur is based on the Dylan of 1964-1965 who tweaked the press in endless interviews.

Quote: "Seven simple rules of going into hiding: . . . Three, if asked if you care about the world's problems, look deep into the eyes of he who asks, he will never ask you again. . . And finally seven, never create anything, it will be misinterpreted, it will chain you and follow you for the rest of your life."

Jack Rollins (Christian Bale), a version of Dylan that focus around Dylan's folk era in the early 60's in Greenwich Village. Jack's story is told by people who knew him, especially a folk star named Alice (Julianne Moore) who is based on Joan Baez. He is also praised by many folk fans who refer to his songs as anthems and protest songs, whereas Jack himself refers to them as "finger-point songs".

Robbie Clark (Heath Ledger). Robbie tells his life story from the first time he met Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourgh, the woman Woody imagined underwater earlier) in a Greenwich Village diner where his fascination with her is her French heritage. Claire is based on Suzie Rotolo (Dylan's girlfriend from the early 1960s), but more so on Dylan's wife Sara Lowndes. Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchett), appears in the opening scene riding his motorcycle just before he crashes, just as Dylan did in 1966. We see an autopsy performed on the crash victim. You question yourself - Did Bob Dylan die? When?

Quote: "You know, I didn't come out of some cereal box. There's no one out there who's gonna be converted by a song."

Billy (Richard Gere), seemingly thinking back on the other Dylans (Billy is based both on the Dylan who withdrew from the public eye in Woodstock after his motorcycle crash and the older, seldom-seen Dylan).

Quote: "People are always talking about freedom, and how to live a certain way. Course the more you live a certain way the less it feels like freedom. Me? I can change during the course of a day. When I wake I'm one person, when I go to sleep I know for certain I'm somebody else. I don't know who I am most of the time. It's like you got yesterday, today and tomorrow all in the same room. There's no telling what's going to happen".

Cate Blanchett wore a sock down her trousers to play Bob Dylan. The actress said it "helped me walk like a man."

Kris Kristofferson, who narrates the film, is a friend of Bob Dylan.

Todd Haynes (director) wrote a one-page summary of his concept and the characters, which Dylan approved for his music to be used in the film. It took another 6 years to get the film made due to funding difficulties. It was filmed in Montreal, although the initial proposal was Romania.

The song "I'm Not There" was an outtake on Dylan's album The Basement Tapes. It was never released until its appearance on the film's soundtrack.


Rolling Stone 15 Nov 2007

It's a feast for the eyes, the ears and the Dylanologist scratching around our minds and hearts. Such is the talent of Haynes ? and the magnificent Blanchett ? that chasing Dylan's shape-shifting shadows becomes an unmissable movie event. The film, shot by the great Ed Lachman with a camera eye that misses nothing, produces Dylan himself in the end. But he's still not there.


A densely idiosyncratic, cubist-like cinematic portrait of a man who often calls to mind Bob Dylan, Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There" resembles a film a precocious grad student in musicology might make about a creative hero. Stylistically audacious in the way it employs six different actors and assorted visual styles to depict various aspects of the troubadour's life and career, the film nevertheless lacks a narrative and a center, much like the "ghost" at its core.

Rotten Tomatoes

  • ...a kind of filmic Dylan song, allusive and evocative and purposefully, poetically ambiguous.

  • A crazy film which shouldn't work, but for most of the time does.

  • Exactly as weird, deep, nonsensical, rambling and wheezy as Dylan's music. Haynes could have cut his movie in half, then reordered the scenes at random, and what he'd have would be no less cohesive than the product as it stands.

  • In a movie loaded with small gems of insight and inspiration, Blanchett's portrayal of the Jude Dylan is a diamond.

  • The film is bracingly original; it's also mystifying, overlong and at times nearly incoherent. Floating at a distance from its audience, it creates its own smoky logic.


I came across this dreamboat in my research on the subject of Bob Dylan . . .

Jakob Luke Dylan, born December 9, 1969 in New York City, is the lead singer and songwriter of the rock band The Wallflowers. He is the youngest of four children born to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and ex-wife Sara Dylan. It has been reported that Jakob does not like his famous father to be mentioned during interviews. This is not because of animosity between the two, as is widely assumed, but because Jakob has stated that he wants to make his own name for himself.

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