“No Direction Home” was aired last night on both the BBC in the UK and PBS in the USA – part II is tonight. Fantastic; thank you to Bob Dylan (for obvious reasons), Martin Scorsese (for making the film and/or compiling/editing all that wonderful rare footage from others), and Steve Jobs for underwriting the operation.
There’ll be thousands of reviews on the web; I liked this commentary by Simon Schama in the Guardian, which comments on his political side, among other things. In my opinion, if you were from that era and/or a Dylan fan and/or interested in “the 60’s”, then the shows or the DVD are absolutely essential viewing. If not, they’ll only be an insignificant blip on your radar.
My take: yep, I was there too at the time (Dave Van Ronk, Cafe Wha?, etc.), then hunkered down in my basement, while the grownups above shouted “what the hell is that horrible noise down there?” Watching “No Direction Home” last night, one of the many pleasant surprises (in addition to the great footage) was the fact that most of the key protagonists are now old enough to reflect back in a fairly matter-of-fact fashion without that annoying overlay of ‘attitude’ and ‘smart-aleck anti-media-commentary’ that ruined similar attempts in the past. In addition to a number of tear-jerker moments (Joan Baez and Bob Dylan singing a duet of “With God On Our Side” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963), there are plenty of soft-focus closeups of the young baby-faced Bobby the Z that will (if you cared enough to read this far) bring a big beaming smile to your face.
I’ll be glued to part II tonight.