Saturday 12 January 2008

Against nature

Today I saw the extraordinary film about Bob Dylan, I’m Not There. Many of the lines (especially in the Cate Blanchett scenes) are quoted from early interviews and documentary footage of Dylan. One of my favourites is the remark about nature:

“I am against nature. I don’t dig nature at all. I think nature is very unnatural. I think the truly natural things are dreams, which nature can’t touch with decay.”


John Mark Inman said...

who was your favorite Dylan?

Ben Myers said...

Hi John. Well, I especially liked the young kid as "Woody Guthrie", Richard Gere as "Billy the Kid", and of course Cate Blanchett's unbelievable performance as "Jude Quinn". I thought that both Blanchett and the 11-year-old kid were absolutely perfect.

But if I had to pick a favourite sequence, it would probably be Richard Gere's "Billy the Kid" sequence. I love the way these scenes bring to life the bizarre, carnivalesque 19th-century world of Dylan's Basement Tapes recordings. A nice example: there's a butcher on the side of the road packing meat into a suitcase, and saying, "Pack up the meat, sweet, we're headin' out!" (a line from the Basement Tapes song "Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread".)

And my favourite scene in the whole film was also in the Richard Gere sequence: the astonishingly powerful performance of "Goin' to Acapulco" by Jim James while, beside him on stage, the corpse of a woman who cut her own throat is staring out from her coffin at the melancholy crowd.

Meredith said...

I saw that film over the weekend too - do you plan to give it a full review? I really enjoyed the movie despite not knowing much about dylan's bio. I particularly liked the young black dylan and blanchett's dylan - but the billy the kid character didn't quite work for me. maybe it was richard gere - maybe I just didn't get it (happens all the time!)

One of my favourite quotes (did dylan really say this?) was his heckle to jesus on the cross 'why don't you do your early stuff!' Sums up what a lot of people think about jesus, i think, and it came at a powerful point in the film.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Meredith. Yeah, I like that scene with Dylan and Ginsberg heckling Jesus on the cross. I don't think Dylan ever really said this — but of course it's exactly the kind of heckling that Dylan was receiving from his fans: "Why don't you do your early stuff!" So the scene creates a nice juxtaposition of Christ and Dylan — a juxtaposition that's fitting, since the born-again Dylan was very fond (perhaps a little too fond) of comparing himself to Christ.

Incidentally, Dylan's tendency to compare himself to Christ always reminds me of that scene in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot:

VLADIMIR: But you can't go barefoot!
ESTRAGON: Christ did.
VLADIMIR: Christ! What has Christ got to do with it? You're not going to compare yourself to Christ!
ESTRAGON: All my life I've compared myself to him.
VLADIMIR: But where he lived it was warm, it was dry!
ESTRAGON: Yes. And they crucified quick.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've always thought of Caesarea Philippi as Jesus' Newport.

Pablo said...

Before I saw the film, I was absolutely certain Cate Blanchett had no place playing Dylan, but I was even more certain I that I was very wrong about that when the lights came up after the credits.

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