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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Music > Rock > Folk > Politics > No Direction Home - Bob Dylan

No Direction Home – Bob Dylan (Documentary)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Episodes: B



When it comes to his documentary work, Martin Scorsese is as good there as he is with his dramatic work.  Italian American (1974) and American Boy (1978) are still among his best works, little seen as they are.  The Last Waltz (1978, reviewed elsewhere on this site) shows a love for Rock music and the counterculture more explicitly than his genius use of such music in his films.  For the great PBS American Masters series, he has created No Direction Home, an exceptional portrait of the great singer/songwriter Bob Dylan.


Scorsese focuses on the time of his birth to what was the end of the 1960s for him as an active artist when a bad motorcycle accident had him pull back from the spotlight and essentially out of actively being part of the counterculture.  This double DVD set sees Dylan getting very personal about his childhood and recalling some very intimate details about his beginnings and influences.  This is more introspective than most people would or could be in public, but is likely second-hand to a genius like Dylan.


The program is painstakingly detailed in its wealth of music footage, rare clips and other key documents and pieces that only someone with Scorsese’s talent would know how to get, come up with knowing, then know how to weave together for ultimate impact.  We get the personal context, the political context, the effect and influence of the music as art, the lives it touched and no stone is left unturned.  So much has been said and shown about Dylan, yet here is Scorsese over 40 years after the events took place, laying them out to bare in ways we would never see otherwise.  No Direction Home is ultimately a great cinematic document of one of the most music artists in history, all the way to his all-too-early retreat after what was a near-death experience.


Because so much of the older footage is 1.33 X 1, Scorsese decided to make the entire program that way and it is very effective as a result, including in its editing by David Tedeschi.  The footage is various, from black and white and color film or the past, to the new footage shot for the 207 minutes-long two-part program.  The sound is here in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo with some Pro Logic surround in parts.  The 5.1 fares a bit better, but the music really calls for DTS that this disc sadly is missing.


Extras include a four-minutes-long promo spot for Positively 4th Street from 1965, eight full-length versions of performances feature din the main program and four guest performances by name female singers doing Dylan.  Of the many Dylan discs on the market, No Direction Home is as key as the key albums of his catalog being issued recently in the Super Audio CD format.  Don’t miss it.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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