For film fans, one company that has been consistently making beautiful packages for home entertainment literally since the Laserdisc era has been Criterion. Their Laserdiscs were the things of legend in a time when you couldn’t even get a movie in widescreen on VHS. They continued to release a wide assortment of films with their trademark meticulous transfers and exclusive bonus content into the DVD format and now on Blu-ray and they seem to have just got better with time. Today we take a look at Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back.
Write and director D.A. Pennebaker has become one of the most well known documentary filmmakers ever, especially known for his music documentaries. But the documentary that started it all for Pennebaker was Dont Look Back. Pennebaker accompanied superstar Bob Dylan during his 1965 tour of England chronicling the singer-songwriter’s concerts, backstage life and personal life during the meteoric rise of his fame. Dylan was already known as a popular folk singer and during this period he was making his transition from acoustic to electric, a move that not all fans approved of. At the young age of 23, Dylan can be seen dealing with the foils of fame, with rabid fans, harsh and questioning critics and fellow musicians and songwriters including Donovan and Joan Baez among others. But he was a young man who was enjoying his fame and having his music influence an entire generation.
Pennebaker is an extraordinary filmmaker in that he has a real knack for capturing elusive moments, personal moments and really communicating a specific time and place to the audience. He not only captures Dylan in a crucial period in his career but he captures a fascinating snapshot of life in 1965 for the world. The look of the film is striking and Criterion’s new 4K transfer is just beautiful. The sound is a wonderful restored soundtrack that is a joy to behold and the bevy of extras will please every film fan and Dylan fan immensely. You get a 1999 audio commentary by Pennebaker as well as a 2006 documentary on the making of the film, a new doc on Pennebaker himself, three short films by Pennebaker, a new interview with Pennebaker and Dylan tour manager Bob Neuwirth, a new interview with Patti Smith and much more. I couldn’t recommend Don’t Look Back more. It is a definitive portrait of one of music’s most influential icons.