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Scorsese and Dylan – old men with new tricks


Scorsese and Dylan – old men with new tricks

New film about the artist is a profoundly significant insight into mythmaking and self-expression

Tymon Smith

It’s a mouthful of a title but if, as a Dylan acolyte, that’s not going to get you to click on Netflix’s latest offering, nothing will. After the success of the conventionally biographical but enviably precious archive filled illuminations of Scorsese’s seminal 2005 documentary No Direction Home – the director and his subject pair up again for what is distinctly different but perhaps even more important film about the 20th century’s most elusive and mythological mystical living pop-culture figure.

Fourteen years after No Direction Home, with a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize for Literature on his mantelpiece, Bob Dylan, the self-made guitar-playing Jewish boy from the Midwest whose career was built on a singular mix of self-invention and deep absorption in the mythology and songbook of the American troubadour tradition, is at age 78 even less inclined to stop constructing and deconstructing the stories he has told about himself, and which so many have told about him.

Scorsese, who first turned his camera on Dylan in 1978 for The Last Waltz, a documentary about the singer’s legendary backing outfit and genius Americana musicians in their own right, The Band, has always been fascinated by Dylan and his many transformations over the years – a series of orchestrated reinventions that have seen the singer spit in the face of assumptions about what kind of music he should play and who he should be in spite of the adoration of millions of fans across the world...

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