I’m Not There

I saw I’m Not There at a press screening with a handful of people. Not surprisingly, Dylan fans loved it, but those who were just there to see a movie were crabby and perplexed on their way out. I wondered then if you had to know Dylan’s story to make any sense of the movie, and if the movie didn’t share the relationship that a good cover version has to the recording covered. I also wonder if the movie doesn’t share a similar relationship with the libraries of Dylan-inspired biography and criticism. You can certainly see visions of Greil Marcus’ thoughts play out on the screen.

As much as I enjoyed the movie the first time around, I admired it even more after hearing Todd Haynes’ commentary on the DVD. For Dylan nuts, his takes on Dylan are interesting, particularly his thoughts on freedom that come near the end of the film. But the movie itself is an even deeper, more complex experience when you realize that there weren’t only sources for the film’s images and film styles, but for the script itself. Haynes talks about it as if it were a collage. Scenes weren’t simply based on moments in Dylan’s life and legend; the dialogue itself was pulled from songs, films and interviews. The sermon that precedes “Moving On” was one he delivered onstage during the Slow Train Coming era.