Bob Dylan’s film Renaldo And Clara was released January 25, 1978
This nearly four-hour surrealist odyssey (232 m.) is written, directed and starring Bob Dylan himself.
|Directed by||Bob Dylan|
|Produced by||Mel Howard|
|Written by||Bob Dylan, Sam Shepard|
|Starring||Bob Dylan, Sara Dylan, Joan Baez|
|Music by||Various artists|
|Cinematography||Howard Alk, David Meyers, Paul Goldsmith|
|Editing by||Bob Dylan, Howard Alk|
|Distributed by||Circuit Films|
|Release date(s)||January 25, 1978|
|Running time||232 minutes|
There is a myth about this film, it is considered to be incoherent and confusing, well, it isn’t. Every time I see it, it strikes me as a unified vision, one man’s vision, where he puts different kind of film stocks and styles together to create an entertaining and, yes, demanding movie. The film is a mixture of fantastic concert footage, documentary style film (dealing with the Hurricane Carter case), and fictional, seemingly improvised footage.
Never let me go:
Drawing structural and thematic influences from the classic film Les Enfants du Paradis, Dylan infuses Renaldo and Clara with lots of shifting styles, tones, and narrative ideas. Similarities between the two films include the use of whiteface , the recurring flower, the woman in white (Baez), the on-stage and backstage scenes, and the dialogue of both films’ climactic scenes.
Also evident is the Cubist approach of the two films, allowing us to see the main characters from the different perspectives of various lovers. This also echoes some of the songs from this Dylan period (Simple twist of faith and Tangled up in blue coming to mind). Running time is also relatively similar.
It’s a free associating epic that feels pulled straight from Bob Dylan’s brain, Renaldo and Clara is a work of misunderstood genius.
Filmed during his legendary 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue Tour and features an eclectic cast of characters (Allen Ginsberg, Sam Shepard, Arlo Gunthrie, Ronnie Hawkins, Harry Dean Stanton, etc) Bob Dylan plays the role of the guitarist Renaldo and his then-wife Sara plays his companion Clara. Joan Baez enters the picture and a love triangle ensues, effectively mirroring Dylan’s own real-life drama. To me it seems to be a fairly accurate description of Dylan’s complicated relationships with women. It simply rings true.
Tangled up in blue:
Disheartened by confused critics who didn’t understand the film at the time of its release, Dylan withdrew it from circulation and has kept it locked away in a vault for over 30 years. The only parts of the movie to be released for consumers are the excerpts found on the bonus DVD accompanying the initial release of Dylan’s The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue. Footage from the film also appeared in the music video of Dylan’s 1991 song Series of Dreams.
Diamonds and Rust (Joan Baez):
Joan Baez: I got dressed up to come down here. I heard you were coming through town.
Bob Dylan: –
Joan Baez: What do you think it would have been like if we’d gotten married?
Bob Dylan: I dunno. I haven’t changed that much. Have you?
Joan Baez: Maybe.
Just like a woman:
A few years back there were rumors of an official release, but it has yet to happen. It would be so great to get a HD release this year, it is now 40 years since it was officially released at the cinema!