Don't Look Back
In 1965, Bob Dylan was still just a folk singer, at least to his fans and the press that increasingly hounded him. But as captured on the fly in D.A. Pennebaker’s seminal documentary Don’t Look Back, Dylan was in the process of not only redefining himself (that year’s Bringing It All Back Home introduced rangy electric guitars and expansive songwriting light years beyond his previous work), but also obliterating the very definitions usually applied to singers and songwriters, much less “pop” stars. And he knew it, too, as Pennebaker’s intimate onstage-and-backstage portrait of a British solo tour illustrates: The press-generated hype over Dylan and transatlantic peer Donovan becomes a running joke until, during a hotel-room guitar pull, Dylan trumps Donovan’s earnest, earthbound folk-pop with the visionary “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” smirking all the while. But Pennebaker also captures a portrait of the artist as a young man, slyly bandying with fans; goofing with girlfriend Joan Baez, crony Bob Neuwirth, and Animal Alan Price; and facing the kind of adulation no one is ready for or equipped to handle, even though he goes out onstage in his leather coat and harmonica rack and justifies it every night.