DOM: Don’t Look Back (Pennebaker, UK, 1967)

This is Pennebaker’s groundbreaking documentary on Bob Dylan’s 1965 British tour, which started in Sheffield on 30th April and cumulated at the Royal Albert Hall for two nights 09-10th May to promote the recently released “Bringing It All Back Home” album. Basically it follows Dylan, Joan Baez, Albert Grossman (Dylan’s manager) and Alan Price (just after he’d left The Animals) at gigs and between gigs. It starts with what has now become a forerunner of the music video with Dylan singing along to “Subterranean Homesick Blues” with certain words written on cards, which he disregards. It captures an icon at the height of his powers and is a snap shot of 60s life, what it was like to attend a concert in the 60s and what it was like to tour in the 60s, a life before stadium rock when rock stars had to play in some cinema or church hall, how their entire entourage would be two cars, not twenty trucks.

However, by the time it was released, May 67, it was out of date, if it had been released a month later, it would have been out of date, Dylan went electric in June and recorded “Like A Rolling Stone”, a song that is a strong contender for the greatest ever written and a month after that in August , the album “Highway 61 Revisited” was released. The times they were a changing and so was Dylan, a year later Dylan was back in Britain with Pennebaker to shoot the sequel “Eat The Document”. Events here took a turn for the worst, cumulating in the “Judas!” chant at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, captured on film, but rarely seen as Dylan objected to the editing of the documentary and took over himself, it didn’t emerge until 1971 and made no sense, the footage was used by Martin Scorsese in his documentary “No Direction Home” and if Pennebaker would have finished it, it perhaps would have been a greater feat, but he didn’t. He did go on to make documentaries about Monterey Pop in 1967 and David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” tour in 1972, but nothing matches this.

US Release 17/05/1967                                    DF Viewing May 1991

One response to “DOM: Don’t Look Back (Pennebaker, UK, 1967)

  1. Pingback: Dirking About … The Great Unread | The Dirk Malcolm Alternative·

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