BOB DYLAN WORLD TOURS 1966-1974
The Home Movies
Review by Mark Wiechman
Dylan, Joel Gilbert, Barry Feinstein, A.J. Weberman, D.A. Pennebaker
Director: Joel Gilbert
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Music Studio Distribution
Length: 120 minutes
Release Date: March 8, 2005
It is fascinating to see the diversity in DVD releases in
the market today. Excellent
documentaries, films, and TV shows which may not have been available on VHS or
were never shown to the public before are available in digitally refurbished
glory. Directors know that if their
vision is not realized fully in a theatrical release, they can always release a
different version to DVD with their commentary on the how and why of every
minute detail. Two or even four
discs can be filled with music, commentary, special documentaries, and moving
from one scene to another has never been easier.
Filmmakers can plan for DVD release after the theatrical release like a
birthday party right after Christmas.
The downside to this boom is that DVDs are often released
which would not have even made it to television or VHS and for good reason.
This DVD is in that category.
The full title of this DVD is accurate, but it opens with color shots of Dylan in concert with concert noises playing and no music ever happens. It is a teaser with nothing else. I cannot help thinking this whole production should have been just liner notes to a CD or a brief book, not a two hour DVD release.
The music is by Highway 61 Revisited, Gilbert’s band.
Granted, the DVD does say no Dylan songs are on it, but I did not realize
until I started watching it that it is nothing more than a series of interviews
with friends and associates of Dylan and many good pictures that speak for
themselves. I just assumed no one
would make such a film. It is
valuable only as a time capsule of interviews with people who may not be with us
much longer, but nothing more. Granted,
most of the 150 or so images here have not been published anywhere else, and
they are nice photos, but they speak for themselves and are hardly
“fascinating” as the back jacket claims.
Bob Dylan’s place in music history was already secure when Barry Feinstein took many photos of him on these tours, and his insight into Dylan himself is interesting, but only marginally so. For example, most of the film is just a seemingly irritated Feinstein talking, then a photo is briefly shown, and this is repeated. He often explains what is happening in a particular picture, which is usually not necessary. Director Joel Gilbert asks many good questions of Feinstein and other friends of Dylan, but he makes the classic mistake of inserting himself into the film.
Conducting the interviews himself is fine, but he also
films himself walking around New York (city and state) which Dylan frequented,
and as much as I love New York, I could not help asking over and over again,
“so what?” Gilbert seems more interested in familiar parts of the most
famous city on Earth than Jim Garrison was in the grassy knoll, as if Dylan was
such a mystery. Dylan is
alive and (more or less) well---why watch this when Dylan is still around?
These problems could be overlooked except that it gets
worse. While the segment about
Dylan’s mysterious motorcycle accident is pretty interesting, scenes of
Gilbert getting on and off a motorcycle, revving it, and driving off interrupt
the interview over and over again. How
is this similar to Dylan’s accident? Who
knows? He does not even keep the
interview going while getting on and off the cycle. This repeated annoyance seems to be designed to add to the
excitement, but only deadens the impact of the whole film.
Panning of the photos is nice, but the interviews are shot
rather in-your-face with little alternation of angles.
The local news is better.
Serviceable during interviews, but as noted above, it is
hard to watch a documentary about a musician when his music is not in it.
Features (zero stars)