DVD Review: I’m Not There (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition)
By Jeff Swindoll May 6, 2008, 14:58 GMT
Inspired by the life and songs of Bob Dylan, I\'m Not There is "a profoundly personal and passionate film" (A.O. Scott, The New York Times) that captures the essence of this elusive genius. Six different actors -- including Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Richard Gere and Oscar® nominee Cate Blanchett in a "soon-to-be-legendary performance" (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) - each embody part of the Dylan legend: from Greenwich Village folk singer ...more
The story of Bob Dylan is told in an unconventional way with six different actors taking on the various Dylan’s from different eras. This unconventional approach will either enthrall or confuse you, but all can agree that Dylan had an interesting life and times and some great music.
Bob Dylan is an icon and director Todd Haynes chooses to explore the various sections of his career by casting different actors to play these Dylan’s. Young black actor Marcus Carl Franklin plays the Dylan that escapes juvey hall by riding the rails and calling himself “Woody Guthrie” and even visits the dying Guthrie in his hospital room.
Christian Bale plays “Jack Rollins,” a folk singer with a social conscience that loses it only to find a conversion to Christianity later. Cate Blanchett plays “Jude Quinn” and is the Dylan from the 1960s that we may be most familiar with since it covers the era that the documentary “Don’t Look Back” and his 1965 tour of England.
Quinn is pursued by the BBC interviewer Keenan Jones (Bruce Greenwood) throughout this section and is asking some difficult questions of the singer.
The late Heath Ledger plays “Robbie Clark” a Hollywood actor ironically best known for his portrayal of “Jack Rollins.” Robbie is going through a messy divorce with his wife Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Ben Whishaw portrays “Arthur Rimbaud,” the poet as unknown accusers interrogate him.
Finally, the aging Billy the Kid (Richard Gere) is pursued by Pat Garrett (Bruce Greenwood, again) though a surrealistic western town to symbolize the elder Dylan.
As you can tell, I’m Not There is a biopic that utilizes various styles and actors to portray the life of Bob Dylan and is no ordinary biographical film. The usual way would’ve been to cast an actor as Dylan and have them run though his life.
Director Todd Haynes took the chameleon aspects of the real Bob and transposed them onto the film. He has the life of Dylan mixed in with the songs and the various different characters that represent him. Therefore you won’t find a character named “Bob Dylan.” This might be confusing to some, but I found the whole thing fascinating.
I was more familiar with the 1960s era Dylan since I reviewed the documentary that chronicled it, Don’t Look Back. The film does a good job recreating the documentary.
I did have to wonder about some of the other episodes since I’m not sure about Dylan’s life. Such as the Ledger character since I didn’t think that Dylan’s forays onto the screen were as successful as this character is made out to be (however, I do think he got some hopeful press for his turn in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid).
Dylan does have some interesting turns in his life and the film portrays them very creatively and to the great soundtrack from his songs.
I’m Not There is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Disc one contains a commentary by director/co-writer Todd Haynes, on screen song lyrics, and a collection of text introductions about the film. Disc two starts off with a trailer gallery that features theatrical trailer #1 (1 minute), #2 (2 minutes). It also has an unused flashcard trailer that recreates Dylan’s famous video (in Don’t Look Back) of Subterranean Homesick Blues.
It runs 18 minutes with the trailer and each of the “Dylan’s” flashcards bits. The “From the Edit Room” sections starts off with auditions for Marcus Carl Franklin and Ben Whishaw (4 minutes total). Next are 2 minutes of deleted scenes, 19 minutes of extended/alternate scenes, and 4 minutes of outtakes.
There’s also a 3 minute “Tribute to Heath Ledger” that is a complication of video footage of Ledger from the film. The “A Look Back” section contains the 2 minute Red Carpet premiere, 21 minute “Making of the Soundtrack,” and a 42 minute Conversation with director Todd Haynes.
The Dylanography contains an article about the movie, the original one page proposal Haynes submitted, Dylan chronology, discography, filmography, bibliography, filmmaker’s notebook, and still galleries.
I’m Not There is not your average biopic, but it is as interesting as its subject. It’s all glued together by the icon and his music.