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REVIEW: 'Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story' may be exactly what Dylan wanted



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Martin Scorsese's new Bob Dylan documentary is now on Netflix. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

It has been 44 years since Bob Dylan went on his "Rolling Thunder Revue" tour. Now with the help of Martin Scorsese, everyone can experience an inside glimpse of it in the Netflix documentary, "Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story."

The film shows never-before-seen footage from the tour itself and has interviews with Dylan along with some of the other members of the tour such as Joan Baez, one of Dylan's longtime friends and performer. The tour included other musicians such as Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith.

The "Rolling Thunder Revue" tour was meant to be a tour played in small arenas or halls to contrast Dylan’s previous tours in large stadiums. The purpose of the tour was not to make money but to have 15 or so musicians and bands go around sharing their music.

Scorsese focuses on the fall leg of the tour and also puts some emphasis on the cultural and political events going on at that time, such as the resignation of President Richard Nixon. 

However, the documentary does not do much to tie the concert with the events going on outside of it. Clips of politics never seem to connect with any of the tour or Dylan himself.

While "Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story" will be welcomed by Dylan fans who may want to relive the tour or even see it for the first time, it tends to be a little lackluster. Behind the scene clips do not offer much excitement or insight to the concert tour as a whole.

With such a famous tour, I expected more songs to be highlighted. The documentary did of course show performances of some of his best songs, such as "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and “Blowin’ In The Wind,” but I felt it could’ve shown more.

There didn’t seem to be an overall point to the documentary. It wasn’t a straight-through film of the tour itself. The interview questions sometimes felt disconnected and meaningless. Dylan himself explains how he doesn’t even really remember much of the tour.

However, that is probably the point. This documentary is full of fake accounts and misinformation; Stefan van Dorp is not a real person and Jimmy Carter didn’t give tickets to a fictional character. However, all of this ends up being something right up Dylan’s alley. Dylan would definitely make things up as he goes for a story.

Dylan is an American music legend. He has been touring and making music for most of his life. He’s been known for his mysterious, stubborn attitude but also for his poetic lyrics about romance or injustices in the world or even about everyday life. This documentary does not do Dylan justice, especially for one of his iconic tours. But it is probably exactly what Dylan wanted.

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