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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, January 03, 2008
    A kaleidoscope, a hall of mirrors, a rainbow

    Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan? Well it works for me. I don't go to FACT that often so I'm clueless as to how to begin reviewing this two-and-a-half-hour-long piece of unique cinematic trickery. Anyway, there's plenty about I'm Not There all over the WWW and it's late and I'm slowed-down full of post-show tapas and Spanish beer. So all I shall add is that of this marvellous film the scene which moved me the most was the one where the Marcus Carl Franklin 'Dylan' (ie the eleven-year old black hobo Dylan) visits the dying Woody Guthrie in hospital and sheds a tear at the outsider genius's deathbed. The scene is overlaid with one of Dylan's most poignant songs, Blind Willie McTell, one which tugs at my heart-strings every time I hear it, and in this filmic context, well...

    That scene brilliantly expresses the idea that Dylan - who the film portrays consistently as the antihero, the reluctant star - is perhaps most 'Dylan' when he's humbling himself before his muses: honouring the hobo maestros, Woody/Willie: members and champions of the poor and set-aside. It's a strong theme in the film, alongside 'Dylan''s counter-struggle against authority figures and those intent on turning him into an authority figure (this is Blanchett's role and she plays it brilliantly). But there are so many themes in the film. It's a kaleidoscope, a hall of mirrors, a rainbow. A butterfly: too elusive to ever pin down and dissect. Like the man, the genius, himself.