• culture

    Rolling Thunder Revue

    Martin Scorsese's film about Bob Dylan's country-wide tour of small clubs captures the intensity of the time while mysteriously keeping one foot in fiction.

    In 1975 Bob Dylan decides to get his gang together to tour small clubs and venues around the country. This is Martin Scorsese’s film of those days — some of it is outstanding, some is a bit weird. First of all, there are some remarkable performances: the rendition of Hurricane is incredible, as is much of the, at the time yet-to-be-released, Desire album. Seeing Dylan perform in these raw little clubs is worth the view in itself.

    Time Travel

    What really stands out is the portrayal of the time, and how un-prepackaged things were. There is a visceral portrayal of a time that was decidedly non-corporate. The clothes, the cars, the language used, it’s all quite remarkable and wonderful. How much freer everything was then, the range of what was acceptable to wear and what an actual bohemian was. Yes, it’s a nostalgia fest, and a guilty pleasure to those of us who were alive then.

    The atmosphere of the village is acute — this is a film that reeks, quite literally, of what it smelled like then: the pot smoke, the lack of washing, the dense patchouli. It was a scene, and these sort of scenes may still exist today, but probably not with that range of characters that were hanging around Dylan in those days. Young Patti Smith jumping on stage, Joni Mitchell showing how to play Coyote, Allen Ginsberg, Rubin Carter…it’s a scene fully alive with personalities and the chaos that surrounds the tour.

    A Pinch of Fiction

    However, for some reason, the film devotes considerable time to made up events and characters. Sharon Stone never met Dylan, but she gives a very believable performance recalling vividly her time on tour with him. It’s a bit odd, but in a way fits into the whole Dylan oeuvre, in that nothing is what it seems to be. The white face, the magic, the always hidden truths of what is really going on, is at the core of Dylan. When has he ever given a straight interview? Does anyone really get what he is really about?

    Man vs Star

    In some of the film’s best moments we hear Joan Baez, Dylan’s not-so-well-treated ex-girlfriend, share a bit about what it’s really like to be around Bob. Hint: you don’t really want to be too close to him. Overall, it is really the women who shine here. They are the ones speaking truth to the myth of Dylan, whereas the men seem caught in a headlights of Dylan’s star power.

    This film, for all its controversial artifices, is still a great carnival ride. Check it out on Netflix. Let us know what you think.
    David Stewart
    David Stewart
    David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

    More Stories

    5 Surprises from “Summer Of Ludo and Gilles” – a pop-up restaurant at Montage Hotel, Beverly Hills

    Summer Of Ludo and Gillesa pop-up restaurant at Montage Hotel, Beverly HillsWhen you’ve lived as long as I have, it’s fun to have an...

    Whatever I Thought I Was Supposed to Be at This Age is Not What I Am and That’s Okay

    by Lee Sachs.In 1996 I got a job at a dotcom place in New York City’s “Silicon Alley.” You know, California has Silicon Valley...

    Hambis Charalambous, 57, Revisited 5 Years Later

    There is so much changing. So many industries and professions being disrupted, with the people in them having their lives disrupted. The intersection of...

    Peter Lindbergh. Photographer, Portraying Beauty at Any Age

    Peter Lindbergh passed last week. He was 74. We photographers rarely get to meet each other, but we are very aware of what each...

    Cannabis Tea and Menopause. Can It Help?

    Having unexpectedly co-founded a cannabis company at age 52 (how’s that for a conversation starter), one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is...

    LATEST Profiles

    Hambis Charalambous, 57, Revisited 5 Years Later

    There is so much changing. So many industries and professions being disrupted, with the people in them having their lives disrupted. The intersection of...

    Ursula Beatt, 59: Creating Her Own World

    Photography by Claudia GoetzelmannWe are very interested in the idea of each of us creating a world around us that allows us to be...

    Ed Patuto, 59: Director of Audience Engagement at The Broad Museum

    Ed Patuto has an unusual job for a 59-year-old guy from Youngstown, Ohio. His gig is to get people to engage and participate with...