This is hands down my favorite documentary. This has everything to do with my love for Bob Dylan though. The only other thing I can see that would possibly change this would be if Martin Scorsese did a Joanna Newsom documentary. But having said that, this movie is legitimately incredible, even if you don’t know that much about Bob Dylan. Now, if you hate everything about him, maybe this shouldn’t be your first choice when deciding on what to watch, but this movie provides so much archival footage and interesting stories, three and a half hours seems too short.
What I love most about this documentary is just how much information is contained in it. This is probably around my 15th time watching this and each time I learn something new. There’s a scene in the beginning of Part II where Dylan starts saying all the advertisements some store in London has written on their walls outside their store. He just kind of reads it all then begins switch words around and getting super into it as he goes. I think it’s because he seems to not care about anything at all but that scene has always been the highlight to me, other than the rare performance footage they have.
WATCH THIS NOW!!! It’s very worth it.
I was nervous about watching No Direction Home. There was a lot at stake! Chris is a huuuuge Bob Dylan fan and pretty much ever since we met he’s suggested we watch this. But I knew it was really long (Chris said it was 4+ hours, but it’s actually around 3.5) and was scared I wouldn’t like it so I sort of avoided it. Which was dumb, because it’s awesome!
I don’t know why I questioned it so much, because I’ve never seen a music documentary that I didn’t love. Even if it was on someone I wasn’t particularly interested in, I’ve always thought good music documentaries are just soooo good. I also loved so much George Harrison: Living in the Material World, another of Scorsese’s music documentaries. Buuuut I also love George Harrison, so I’m a little biased.
So, I’m not a huge Bob Dylan fan. Especially next to Chris. I have . . . issues with his voice, and at some point in high school I read an article that was basically all about him being mean to Joan Baez, which really upset me and sort of made me hate him. But, through all of that, I still don’t dislike him. His voice works sometimes. And above everything, his lyrics are really just totally incredible.
No Direction Home doesn’t cover the same large amount of time as other music documentaries I’ve seen; it pretty much stops around 1966. But that’s okay with me, because it focused a lot on his early, folk-y years and his transition into electric guitar. The folk stuff is super interesting to me because I love all that stuff: The Kingston Trio (although they didn’t show up here), The Clancy Brothers, Joan Baez; No Direction Home‘s greatest achievement, I think, is its collection of performances, including from The Clancy Brothers and Joan Baez, and, obviously, mostly of Bob Dylan. I loved it. It’s so crazy and interesting watching these old performances.
I think, besides seeing the old performances, the biggest positive influence No Direction Home had on me was when it talked about his relationship with Joan Baez. They had archival footage along with current Baez and Dylan talking about it. The way Baez talks about the experience with him now is very gracious and has the wisdom that comes with history. And even Bob Dylan said, about not bringing Baez onstage in England, that it wasn’t a negative against her and that “I hope she sees that now.” I guess that could sound condescending, but he said it very genuinely. That yeah, he can see why she was upset, but it was an artistic decision that he hopes she can see with time, which it seems like she does.
No Direction Home isn’t short (we watched it in a few installments), but it’s really worth it if you have any interest in American music in the early 60’s.