September 3: I’m Not There the Bob Dylan film was released in 2007
“Yeah, I thought it was all right. Do you think that the director was worried that people would understand it or not? I don’t think he cared one bit. I just think he wanted to make a good movie. I thought it looked good, and those actors were incredible.”
– Bob Dylan (about the film)
I’m Not There is a 2007 biographical musical film directed by Todd Haynes, inspired by the life and music of American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Six actors depict different facets of Dylan’s public personas: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw. Production notes published by distributor The Weinstein Company explain that the film “dramatizes the life and music of Bob Dylan as a series of shifting personae, each performed by a different actor—poet, prophet, outlaw, fake, star of electricity, rock and roll martyr, born-again Christian—seven identities braided together, seven organs pumping through one life story.”
I’m Not There, Trailer:
A caption at the start of the film declares it to be “inspired by the music and the many lives of Bob Dylan”; this is the only mention of Dylan in the film apart from song credits, and his only appearance in it is concert footage from 1966 shown during the film’s final moments.
The film features numerous songs by Dylan, performed by Dylan and also recordings by other artists. The songs feature as both foreground—performed by artists on camera (e.g. “Goin’ to Acapulco”, “Pressing On”)—and background accompaniment to the action. A notable non-Dylan song in the movie is “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” by The Monkees, which plays in the background of a party scene set in London.
I love the film, here are some clips from it:
Going To Alcapulco, very fine version from Jim James and Calexico:
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol:
I want you, great scenes from the film:
The minute you try to grab hold of Dylan, he’s no longer where he was. He’s like a flame: If you try to hold him in your hand you’ll surely get burned. Dylan’s life of change and constant disappearances and constant transformations makes you yearn to hold him, and to nail him down. And that’s why his fan base is so obsessive, so desirous of finding the truth and the absolutes and the answers to him – things that Dylan will never provide and will only frustrate…. Dylan is difficult and mysterious and evasive and frustrating, and it only makes you identify with him all the more as he skirts identity.
– Todd Haynes (director)