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New Netflix Bob Dylan Documentary to be Directed by Martin Scorsese

Bob Dylan performing onstage at the Salzburgarena, Salzburg, Austria in July 2012 as part of his Never Ending Tour. © Paolo Brillo

A new Netflix Bob Dylan documentary directed by Martin Scorsese is currently in the works which will focus on the musician's celebrated Rolling Thunder Revue concert tour which took place in the mid-1970s. The doc will feature new interviews with the Nobel-prize winning singer-songwriter and the title will be: Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese.

Scorsese has previously tackled His Bobness in the 2005 film No Direction Home. The film looked at Dylan in his 1965-66 period, when he “went electric” including the infamous gig at Manchester Free Trade Hall where he was called “Judas!”—and responded by telling his band to "play it f*cking loud” before launching into a blistering version of “Like a Rolling Stone”. The doc also featured  interviews with Dylan and other talking heads from the period, including Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez and Pete Seeger.

Bob Dylan photographed by Don Hunstein while recording his album 'Bringing It All Back Home' in Studio A, Columbia Recording Studios in New York City 1965. This period was the focus of Scorsese's previous Dylan documentary. © Don Hunstein

According to Variety the Netflix Bob Dylan film will “not be quite as much of a straightforward documentary” and it quotes a source as saying, “There’s a reason the word ‘story’ appears in the title.” noting that Scorsese may approach the form of the film in a more playful way. Netflix gave Variety a bit more detail, teasing:

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese captures the troubled spirit of America in 1975 and the joyous music that Dylan performed during the fall of that year. Part documentary, part concert film, part fever dream, Rolling Thunder is a one of a kind experience, from master filmmaker Martin Scorsese.”

Bob Dylan relaxing with a pint during the recordings for his BBC concert on 1st June 1965. © Barrie Wentzell

It’s also confirmed that Dylan, somewhat reticent when it comes to being interviewed, has done new interviews specifically for the film. And also Dylan’s manager, Jeff Rosen, has been undertaking interviews with performers from the Rolling Thunder Revue and artists of that period over the last few years. The tour, which took place between 1975 and 1976, has been heralded as one of Dylan’s finest and one of the finest in rock history.

It was a freewheelin’ travelling caravan of musicians, poets and artists which included Joan Baez, David Bowie’s guitarist Mick Ronson, Bob Neuwirth, Roger McGuinn, T Bone Burnett, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Ronee Blakley, Scarlet Rivera, Allen Ginsberg and Sam Shepard. Others who turned up for one-off shows included Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr, Patti Smith, Bette Midler, Kinky Friedman and Dennis Hopper.

The tour was filmed at the time and in 1978, with the help of screenwriter Shepard who had been part of it and also wrote a book about it, the film Renaldo and Clara was released. The four hours of live footage, interviews and an additional fictionalised narrative where Dylan was a character called Renaldo and his then wife, Sara, was Clara wasn’t that well received critically. But it has remained a curiosity to Dylan fans over the years.

Bob Dylan striking an Elvis-like pose whilst onstage at the Arena di Verona in April 2018. © Paolo Brillo

This new film looks to nod to that, while also no doubt being imbued with Scorsese’s finery as a filmmaker, along with the passion that comes with being a longtime Dylan fan.

In a recent interview with Esquire, T Bone Burnett commented on being interviewed for this new Bob Dylan Netflix documentary around four years ago, saying:

“It's something they've been working on for some time now. I did another interview about three or four years ago for it. But I have no idea what they're up to. There's so much footage, the Rolling Thunder, the whole thing was completely recorded. And then we were making a film at the same time so I would think most of it would be drawn from that.

It was an interesting time. Bob had just recorded Blood on the Tracks and Desire. He was at the absolute peak of his powers and completely generous, finding people on the street and putting them on his stage. Finding old friends that he hadn't seen for 20 years and putting them on the stage. He gathered a pretty large group of artists for a tour. And it was an extraordinary act of generosity.”

The film is due to be released later in 2019.

Bob Dylan with his bassist Tony Garnier playing in Italy in May 2000. © Jill Furmanovsky

Rockarchive is delighted to be able to offer these and many more iconic Bob Dylan images as limited edition photographic prints which you can buy here.

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