No Direction Home: Bob Dylan Reviews

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Bathsheba Monk
Super Reviewer
November 13, 2012
What I liked about this is that it shows the cluelessness of the press who interviews Dylan as a phenomenon not an entertainer--"do you think you should be the leader of the rebels of your generation" "would you suck on your sunglasses for a photo" etc. The questions they asked him at the press conferences were so ridiculous, I definitely felt his pain as he tried to be polite while at the same time wanting to tell them to bugger off. I am a Dylan fan without being a Dylan worshiper. This is the first time I saw him interviewed or perform except for a lackadaisical show in Boston a number of years ago where I thought he probably had the flu--everyone else did. Anyway, I was surprised at his physical beauty. Surprised at his artistry. Surprised at the ordinariness of Joan Baez who was gifted with angelic pipes but given the curse of wanting to sing for a cause which negates the whole entertainment thing which Bob Dylan was after and for which I admire him. I admire his foray into rock and other genres and experiences. As he says, "if you're not busy being born,you're busy dying."
Super Reviewer
½ October 28, 2011
Probably the best music documentary I've seen. This masterpiece focuses as much on the roots of Dylan as Dylan himself.
Super Reviewer
January 19, 2009
Great for what it covers, especially the actual Dylan interviews Scorsese carries on with him "now." There's nothing better than hearing Dylan talk about Dylan. Now if only Scorsese could do a documentary that brings us up to the present.
Super Reviewer
½ September 23, 2007
A compelling and essential documentary about arguably the greatest American singer/songwriter of all time. Directed by the comparably great Martin Scorsese, No Direction Home is essential viewing for both die hard and passive Dylan fans (and really, who isn't in some way a Bob Dylan fan?), as it details his career from its start until the late 60s; the most important part of his development as an artist, and the most interesting. I can most easily compare this film with Bukowski: Born Into This, which is an essential, brilliant doc about Charles Bukowski told largely from the perspective of the man himself. Here one particular Dylan interview is cut throughout the film and adds to and comments on the other perspectives at work. And also, like Born Into This used Buk's poetry to no small effect, No Direction Home is riddled with awesome footage of live performances and song recordings, many of which are studio takes which probably can't be heard anywhere else. I really can't recommend this enough. Its a brilliant, sprawling documentary about the most important American musician of all time, made by one of the most important American filmmakers of our time - now that should be plenty of incentive!
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2006
The only Bob Dylan documentary you will ever need to see.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
June 12, 2012
Jeez, the first documentary was "Don't Look Back", and almost 40 years later, Bob Dylan still has no direction home, and he's about two years away from just going ahead and telling us that he's not there. Maybe Bob Dylan should have looked back, so he could figure just where in the world he is, because at this point, he just sounds like he got lost somewhere along way. Either that, or he keeps assuring us that he really isn't going back. I can't tell, because Bob Dylan has always been kind of hard to understand, so I was going into this documentary really hoping that Martin Scorsese could tell me exactly what is up with good ol' Bobby D, mostly because if Big Brows is going to make me sit through a two-and-a-half documentary about Bob Dylan, it better be informative. Seriously Marty, you couldn't spend an extra thirty minutes or meditating upon the life and times of the Dalai Lama in that one rushed, only 134 minute long biographical "epic", and yet, you choose to have a documentary break the 200 minute mark? Well, in all fairness, maybe this documentary stands to be little bit longer, because they barely touched on Bob Dylan's childhood as a young black boy, and barely went in depth on his career as a man's man, who's clearly a woman; I figured they would have brought that up. So yeah, as you can tell, "I'm Not There" is still my favorite biographical piece on Bob Dylan, which isn't to say that this documentary is bad, because this is quite the fine product that Scorsese has put together, yet it is to say that it's not the most enjoyable study on the folk rock legend, and for a few reasons.

As interesting as Bob Dylan's life and career is, I was going into this film dubious, thinking that they couldn't pull off a three-and-a-half hour long documentary on the folk legend, and yet, upon actually seeing the film, I can comfortably say that, of course, I now know that they couldn't pull off a three-and-a-half hour long documentary on the folk legend. No, but seriously though, on the whole, this documentaries sprawling length is made to fit like a glove, yet that stretch isn't always a terribly comfortable one. The documentary goes bloated, with repetition and excess footage, not just of Bob Dylan, but of many, many fellow and inspiring folk singers, whose incorporation, or rather, at times, crowbaring into the documentary leaves its focus to fall into momentary inconsistency, occasionally to where it exacerbates the documentary's ever so mild, yet still rather present convolution, spawned mostly from the pacing being all over the place. Okay, maybe "all over the place" is a bit of an exaggeration, as the film is rarely too slow and is hardly ever, if at all too hurried, yet the film's momentum remains somewhat inconsistent, with consistency at least being in the fact that either side of pacing spectrum has occasions where it was too much, as the film gets to be ever so occasionally overbearing and often a tad dull. The film's steam takes quite the number of blows, leaving it, for all extents and purposes, to collapse under the immense pressure, maybe not to mediocrity, yet still decidedly to some degree of blandness. As it stands, however, this documentary stands as quite the satisfying one. I don't know if this film delivers because of my rule that if a film is over three hours, then it better be good, or whatever, yet eitherway it goes, this documentary gets to be piercing, and just often enough for it to stand out as very much well worth the watch.

The written and Martin Scorsese's directorial structure of this documentary is rather unique, with consistent intrigue amidst a gradual rise in resonance that mirrors the story structure of an impacting feature film. Sure, this rise isn't always smooth, yet it gets there, and gets there with a kind of cleverly manipulated dramatic energy that gives the documentary a degree of scope that borders on sweeping. I don't know if you could consider this some kind of epic documentary, yet the fact of the matter is that it is so broad and cinematic, with dynamic dramatic appeal that gives the film both an enthralling grandness, as well as a sense of the complex dynamicity within both Bob Dylan and the music industry to which he belonged and, to a considerable degree, influenced the same way it influenced him. If all else fails and the dramatic aspects fall dim amidst such a lengthy study, it's still hard to not find yourself engrossed, as the documentary is simply extremely fascinating, with a strong attention to detail and insight that may also may have its spotty occasions, yet generally cuts deep in its analysis of its subject. The way the countless clips of rare and deeply insightful footage, interviews and overall material is assembled together, and atmospherically enhanced by Martin Scorsese's direction, is unique and theatrical, making such a narrative as a mere series of footage flashbacks, framed around people in an interview, feel vast, yet still concentrated. Even with spotty moments in the midst of a sprawling runtime, this documentary is consistently engaging, if not simply entertaining, on the whole. Flaws still stand and tear at the final product, yet at the end of the day it will probably take you to watch this, it's hard to not walk away generally satisfied by this both sweeping and insightfully detailed study on the life and ever a-changin' times of Bob Dylan.

Overall, the lengthy runtime is achieved by such not-so commendable means as some repetition, as well as some excess footage that throws inconsistency in the documentary's focus and renders it ever so occasionally convoluted, a situation made worse by a somewhat uneven pacing, yet where the film could have fallen flat, it is, much like Bob Dylan in "Pressing On", well, pressing on, carried by a fascinating attention detail that creates engagement value, augmented by a unique structure and execution that gives the film a degree of sweeping dramatic scope and the intriguing insight that helps in making "No Direction Home" a generally satisfying, thoroughly engaging sprawler of a portrait on folk music and, most of all, one its most legendary icons.

3/5 - Good
Super Reviewer
½ July 13, 2006
Martin Scorsese is a legendary director for many reasons, all of which are visible in this epic documentary. Studying one of my favorite musicians, Scorsese demonstrates yet again how well he can craft a story and meld imagery and music. Although this is an expansive and extremely detailed film, Dylan's enigmatic status is maintained. Required viewing for fans of Bob Dylan or the director.
Super Reviewer
½ February 22, 2008
Such a thorough and immersive documentary about not-so-arguably the greatest songwriter of all time. Clocking it at nearly 3 1/2 hours, you can't help but get so much insight into Dylan's thought life, personality, and his musical influences. The film is directed toward hardcore Bob Dylan fans, so it's not for everybody...only for everybody that matters ;)
Super Reviewer
March 8, 2006
I like Bob Dylan
June 20, 2012
Full disclosure, I've never been a huge Dylan fan. I see why he is so important, and I think he is a terrific songwriter, but I've actually often preferred other artists covering his work. I'll admit that in recent times I've warmed up a little to him, I am personally a fan of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan". If you are a Dylan fan, then Scorsese's exhaustive documentary examining Dylan's early days up until his motorcycle accident should please you. I found it to be well made, and I learned a lot about this artist, even if I don't think I'll ever really be a big fan of his.
½ August 3, 2010
Probably the greatest documentary film to really capture Dylan's life, from birth to the late 60s. Dispersed throughout are various interviews with Dylan where he recollects on the different events of his life, from childhood all the way until the end of the 1960s, where he suffered a nervous and mental breakdown on tour in Europe.

Probably the greatest part of the documentary are the scenes where Dylan goes electric and the chaos that ensues. From Pete Seeger threatening to "unplug" him to the fans shouting "Judas!" at him in England, this is certainly the most potent image of the backlash Dylan experienced when he turned his back on the traditional folk audience. A fantastic portrait of a poetic genius and a contemporary musical hero.
May 14, 2009
If you love biographys and documentaries this is superb. Espically if you worship Bob's talents as a gifted poet
January 16, 2009
Great documentary by Scorsese...

Love Dylan so this was fun to watch and learn things that I didn't know...
½ July 9, 2008
Perhaps this film doesn't shed a ton of new light on its subject, Bob Dylan, but it does give a very good look at his rise in the music world.
½ December 23, 2007
If you're a Dylan fan, this amazing documentary about his early years will make you appreciate his work even more.
October 1, 2007
Awsome Awsome Awsome, insight and images and past mingling with the present and interviews and narrations about a life spent in the drowning pools of LIVING knowledge, of experience and music and changing, of almost always moving, constently.....
August 31, 2006
Martin Scorsese did an exelent job with this documenterary on the early days of Bob Dylan's carrer. I don't think I will ever get tired of watching it.
½ August 17, 2007
Incrediby fascinating film not just about Bob Dylan but also about the whole folk music schene during the '60. Amazing early film footage and interviews with the main players of the 'protest' song movement.
½ August 4, 2007
Helped me put Dylan's music into the context of the time that he was writing and performing. Scorsese even gets an interview with Dylan, though he doesn't really reveal much; he never does. The archival performance footage really made the film for me.
June 26, 2007
It's so tough to pick my favorite documentary of all-time. It's either Fugazi's "Instrument" or this.
Running at almost 4 hours, this thing is a beast, but comprehensive in almost every aspect of Dylan's life. It starts back in Minnosota, but the really interesting aspects, and what the film focuses on in the second half is between 1963-1966. Those years are just extremely interesting and some of the most mythologized in the Dylanology of today.
Amazing. Scorcese peaks in his first doc attempt.
When I say almost 4 hours, I don't exaggerate and every minute is engaging. However, I do have some favorite moments. Mostly, they are the press conferences that Dylan gave during the '65-'66 tours and maybe the absolute pinnacle of Dylan fucking with the very media that both loved and despised him is when a reporter asks him about the significance of his Triumph mototcycle t-shirt on the cover of "Highway '61 Revisited" . I refuse to give away the reply, but go see it. The standard that all music docs are measured by now.
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