Dylan Documentary Airs Tonight on PBS

Martin Scorcese's documentary about Bob Dylan, No Direction Home, will air tonight and tomorrow night on PBS. As the Washington Post reports , it's one you won't want to miss.

"No Direction Home" represents a great musical-cinematic summit, as no less than the great Martin Scorsese directs -- with superb control and judgment -- what surely qualifies as the definitive documentary about Bob Dylan. "No Direction Home" will be broadcast in two parts tonight and tomorrow night on PBS's "American Masters" series, and in the bargain viewers get two masters -- one a hugely influential singer and songwriter with a canny, thoroughly American knack for self-invention and the other a filmmaker with a thumb (to recycle an encomium Dylan has dodged throughout his career) firmly on the pulse of his generation.

It's a happy collaboration.

From the Amazon link above:

It's virtually impossible to approach No Direction Home without a cluster of fixed ideas. Who doesn't have their own private Dylan? The true excellence of Martin Scorsese's achievement lies in how his documentary shakes us free of our comfortable assumptions. In the process, it plays out on several levels at once, each taking shape as an unfailingly fascinating narrative. There is, of course, the central story of an individual genius staking out his artistic identity. But along with this Bildungsroman come other threads and contexts: most notably, the role of popular culture in postwar America, art's self-reliance versus its social responsibilities, and fans' complicity with the publicity machine in sustaining myths. All of these threads reinforce each other, together weaving the film's intricate texture.

Scorsese's 200-plus-minute focus on Dylan's earliest years allows for a portrayal of unprecedented depth, with multiple angles: a rich composite photo is the result. The main narrative has an epic quality: it moves from Dylan growing up in cold-war Minnesota through Greenwich Village coffeehouses and the Newport Folk Festival, climaxing in the controversial 1966 U.K. tour that crowned a period of unbridled and explosive creativity. In his transition from Robert Allen Zimmerman to Bob Dylan, we observe him concocting his impossible-to-describe, unique combination of the topical with the archaic, like an ancient oracle.

Scorsese was able to access previously unseen footage from the Dylan archives, including performances, press conferences, and recording sessions. He also uses interviews with Dylan's friends, ex-friends, and fellow artists, and, intriguingly, with the notoriously reclusive Dylan himself (who looks back to provide glosses on the early years), fusing what could have turned into a tiresome series of digressions and tangents into a powerful whole as enlightening, eccentric, contradictory, and ultimately irreducible as its subject.

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    Re: Dylan Documentary Airs Tonight on PBS (none / 0) (#1)
    by Peter G on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:18 PM EST
    Two hour radio version, narrated by David Dye of WorldCafe, was on WHYY-91FM in Phila today from 2-4, and repeated from 6-8. Excellent. The film is showing on WHYY-TV12 in Phila on Mon and Tues eve from 9-11 each night. Here's a long rundown.

    Re: Dylan Documentary Airs Tonight on PBS (none / 0) (#2)
    by Peter G on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:19 PM EST
    More good Dylan stuff (and this) in the Philadelphia Daily News today.

    Re: Dylan Documentary Airs Tonight on PBS (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:20 PM EST
    That was cool. Just finished showing it on BBC2 in the UK.