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Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese

Scorsese’s 2019 documentary comes to home video

Criterion will issue a special edition blu-ray of Martin Scorsese’s documentary about Bob Dylan‘s Rolling Thunder Revue tour of 1975.

The iconic tour saw Dylan hit the road with a band of troubadours—including luminaries such as Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, and Joni Mitchell— and produce a freewheeling variety show that was part traveling counterculture carnival, part spiritual pilgrimage.

In the documentary (which has been available on Netflix for a while) director Martin Scorsese blends performance, behind-the-scenes archival footage and interviews with talking heads and has some fun, getting up to “narrative mischief” leading the viewer down the garden path on a few occasions. Sharon Stone contributes to this film and we are told that she joined Dylan on this tour as a very young woman, in some vague ‘helping out’ capacity!

This blu-ray features a new 4K digital transfer (although note, this is not a 4K UHD disc) and a 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. There’s a DVD edition as well.

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese is released on 19 or 25 January 2021. Note the region codes should be appropriate for the territory. So the UK link is the UK edition (region B) and USA is vice versa (region A).

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Rolling Thunder Revue - blu-ray

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Key features

• New 4K digital transfer, approved by director Martin Scorsese, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
• New interviews with Scorsese, editor David Tedeschi, and writer Larry “Ratso” Sloman
• Restored footage of never-before-seen Rolling Thunder Revue performances of “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You” and “Romance in Durango,” and of a never-before-seen cut of “Tangled Up in Blue”
• Trailer
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by novelist Dana Spiotta and writing from the Rolling Thunder Revue tour by author Sam Shepard and poets Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman

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KB

Ah man i was really really hoping for lots more live performances, infact I was hoping for a full concert performance & some of the TV shows from that period…what a shame for all that other footage to be sitting on a dusty shelf somewhere.
I love this film though & will probably buy it a bit later on to see the extras but come on guys…I was expecting a second disc full of live rarities!!

Sascha H.

Yes, it would´ve been great if they released ” Renaldo & Clara ” as a bonus disc with additional material. But it is what it is. I take it at it is. For me as a Dylan fan a must have.

Sascha H.

An employee from Amazon.de told me that the Blu Ray will be available in two weeks. I hope so. I want that thing.

John Mason

Is it worth mentioning there is also a DVD available on one of the two(?!?) dates?

quatrmass

My bluray just arrived and… it doesn’t really survive a second viewing. First time around on Netflix, I thoroughly enjoyed it, fictional elements and all. This time, it was like rewatching an over-long joke while knowing the punchline.

Also,anyon\ hoping that the musical elements have their own chapters, but for the most part, they don’t. Not without wading through the jokes again, anyway. The three bonus performances are great, bu it’s back to Renaldo & Clara for me….

John MC cann

I’ll pick this up in cex for a tenner soon then!

David Healey

This film has divided opinion. Personally I would have preferred a straight documentary, with whatever they could salvage of concert footage as extras.

Of course I respect the artists right to play around with form and presentation, but this almost feels like someone has re-edited The Beatles Anthology and thrown in a few random segments of The Rutles as a bit of a laugh.

You could probably have a humorous Dylan pastiche, although it has inevitably passed its sell-by date now in terms of timing and Neil Innes already went there with Protest Song, but this feels a bit odd. It will go over casual viewers’ heads and become mixed up with fact which will have to be explained when, in the future, various u informed commentators take the jokes at face value. It is neither one thing or another. Will obviously buy it for what does work and for the excellent period footage but it is a flawed project, sadly.

Greg

I was really looking forward to this being released on disc then I saw it on Netflix and thought it was about the ‘stories’ and not the music. Not that excited anymore.

It reminds me of the deluxe edition of Trouble No More. Instead of just putting out the full concert from Toronto in 1980, they put selected songs around an actor reading Bob’s edited concert ‘sermons’ and chopped the original aspect ratio to fit widescreen (as if TV remotes don’t have zoom buttons).

This time round the Dylan’s music serves as a platform for the new ‘stories’ that are like in-jokes – funny once and forgettable after that.

Dylan’s people have done great work releasing music from the Rolling Thunder and Gospel eras but their approach to historic footage has been pretty underwhelming.

chazfromtoronto

Thanks for this Paul.
I have been searching hi and lo for video clips from the Desire release, performed by Bob Dylan together with the amazing violinist Scarlet Rivera.
Desire is one of my fav Dylan recordings and that may be quite possibly due to the brilliant accompaniment of Rivera on every track.
However there are a few video releases featuring cuts from Desire but none of them were with Rivera.
Seems like this release features at least six cuts from the Desire album and that fact alone made me jump up and order the item pronto!

Toupee-Shakur

This was actually a really bad and unfunny practical joke by Dylan, and really just an insult to his fans who are only tuning in to hear the music. I’m not even sure Scorsese had anything to do with it, but probably went along with the joke because it was Dylan.

But his name being involved fools people into thinking they’re going to be getting a great music documentary/concert film like The Last Waltz or No Direction Home, when it is neither. It does not feature Martin Scorsese’s face or voice, or feel like ANY known Scorsese film, in any way.

The footage from 1975 is good, what scraps of it there are (usually frustratingly incomplete, with stupid and unfunny talking over the top), but the modern fictionalized interviews (often with entirely fictional people) take up as just much of the running time, are very cheaply filmed and appallingly self-indulgent.

It would have been far, far, far better to either have attempted a definitive, restored “Redux” cut of Renaldo & Clara which tried to cut through its notorious self-indulgence and set its strengths in a better light, OR constructed a straight concert film from the best performances filmed on the Rolling Thunder tour.

Instead of going in and patiently sifting what’s great from the vast footage of that flawed and messy period of time, the way Peter Jackson’s forthcoming Beatles doc appears to be doing, it scrawls over and defaces the past with a real malice. Such self-sabotage makes me wonder if Dylan should be the one overseeing his legacy in something like this when he treats it with such carelessness and contempt.

This is a truly horrible release, like I say really just an insult, and so it’s really strange hearing people who don’t get it is *literally* a joke being played upon them trying to defend it because it’s Dylan.

Tim Abbott

Exhibit A, m’lud.

I Rogers

So much for ANY imagination on your part. They were doing something DIFFERENT with the form, DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tim Abbott

The best thing about this amazing film is that the blurring between fact and fiction is possible because the bits that are actually true are as fantastic as the made-up parts. The clip of Joni Mitchell playing Coyote while Roger McGuinn and Gordon Lightfoot can only look on at her talent is absolutely priceless.

I’ve known a few Bob fans who were quite angry at this not being a straight factual documentary, but to ask that is to entirely miss the fact that Dylan’s spent six decades playing with his audience. It’s part of his charm.

Steven Campbell

I watched part of this film on Netflix and as much of a fan of Dylan as I am I couldn’t say it was one that I thought was that great. I will freely admit I didn’t watch the whole thing but it was one of those films that I had been looking forward to seeing and was very disappointed/bored as it was one of those films to me that was a long film and you knew was long film though maybe I do need to watch it again and indeed the whole way through. To those who say oh the blu ray has a better picture, indeed it does but in the case of this and older films of its ilk you really aren’t losing that much in terms of picture quality bearing in mind the age of the film we speak of here if you go for the DVD plus if you play a DVD in a blu ray player it automatically upscales the picture to almost HD anyway which on newer films I will concede sometimes you can spot the difference but on older footage in some ways the DVD is a better choice as you won’t notice as many of the imperfections of the film in the transfer over the blu ray and the DVD is cheaper too.

Jim

… And breathe.

David M

Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead?

David Morgan

Strange. Don’t think they were involved at all.

David M

Ah I see.

John Drayton

Hopefully Criterion will follow this with a complete ‘Renaldo and Clara’.

Sascha H.

I think that won´t happen. I got a copy on DVD since many years. It´s a special film, hey, it´s Dylan !

David Fisher

Absolutely – I have a VHS of Renaldo and Clara recorded off Channel 4 from way back. We need that in HD. I doubt it will happen any more than we’ll ever get a release of at least once version of Eat the Document. Looking forward to seeing this though.

Dan R

For many years, I ‘ve been hoping that one day Renaldo & Clara would be released on DVD/Blu-Ray. Thought it might form part of a Bootleg Series-type-thing, maybe? But why is everyone so sure it will never happen? Is there something I don’t know that prevents it?

David Fisher

Well the reason I think it won’t happen is because “Reynaldo and Clara” is very long and like much of Dylan’s visual output wilfully obscure. I love it but I can see why many would not. Likewise I’m a Zappa nut and love the movie “200 Motels” but happily concede that it’s clearly “not for everyone”.

John Drayton

True, it’s an acquired taste, but Criterion typically service a niche market. I have an old copy from Canadian TV and it’s in turns riveting and annoying. The ‘200 Motels’ comparison’s a good one, but I’d add a dash of ‘Chelsea Girls’ to cover the annoying bits.

The Golden Age Of The Phonograph

Been a Dylan fan since I was twelve, a looooooooonnnnng time ago, so this is a must for me.

Ordered the BD a while back, even though I have Netflix I didn`t bother watching knowing this would be released. I have a bootleg copy (also unseen) on DVD, a lucky Dylan fan can buy this from a local charity shop……..when they open up again.

Paul C

Can anybody explain why this Blu-ray is £25 when most retail around £15? I can’t see why it is so much more expensive.
I am a Dylan fan and will buy it, but may wait until the price comes down.

Paul Kent

I’m a Criterion collector and can tell you categorically that that price will not come down. Either bite the bullet or get the DVD. Zoom do “x for £x” Criterion promotions now and again, so you could hope it appears in one of those in the future. Criteron make no apologies for the bespoke nature of their price structure. This is because, in the main, they spend a huge amount on audio / video restoration and provide some phenomenal and copious extras that cannot be found anywhere else. For example, their issue of “True Stories” features a complete soundtrack album on CD (not just the Talking Heads tracks), “Do The Right Thing” contains a book (not booklet) of Spike Lee’s on-set diaries, “Dr. Strangelove” holds some extensive notes and essays printed on and in beautifully recreated artefacts from the movie. I can vouch for the quality and aesthetics of Criterion releases. How this attention to detail can be worked into such a recent movie is another matter but… you pays your money, etc.

David M

They have half price sales sometimes

John MC cann

Because it’s the criterion edition!
That means it’s top of the range!
The rolls Royce of bluray,
Iv got the criterion edition of don’t look back,,having said that about £20 would be a better price,

RODOLFO MARTIN

Criterion editions are very carefully done. They are additions approved by the director, they are always restored with an impressive level of quality and normally dedicated to old classic movies (there are some exceptions, like Parasite). You need to buy one in blu-ray preferably, have it in your hands and feel it. The packaging is very well done most of the times. A couple of times a year, at least in the USA, they sell at 50%, so I am always paying attention. I can say they are sort of limited edition. When they are gone, the prices rises astronomically in eBay or independent stores. Their Instagram account is a good one to follow.

Sascha H.

… and it will be ready to pre order on Amazon.de soon, so they tell me. Juchuh ! Sadly they won´t release ” Renaldo & Clara “. I will not moan we get this piece from His Bobness´s great ” Rolling Thunder Revue ” tour.

Kevin

Wait, Scarlet actually was Gene Simmons’ girlfriend once-upon-a-time?

I always thought that was one of the made up parts.

Danielz

Fantastic. The greatest songwriter of our generation. No one sings Dylan like Dylan. Some people don’t ‘get him’, but I love his voice, full of passion and purpose. The film is an amazing document of a period in time. Contains some of Dylan greatest compositions and performances.

adam shaw

Never a great fan of Bob but appreciated his music , I saw this on Netflix and it changed my whole opinion of him and I understood more of what he’s about .
Great film .

Mark G

Hmm, so the DVD version is £14.99 on Amazon uk.

Beyond the format issue, what does the Blu-Ray have that the DVD does not?

Gisabun

G:
In general [not specific to this film], you would get the following advantages in some or all releases:
Way higher resolution.
[Some or all] Extras that are on BR and not on DVD because of the lack of space on the DVD.
No audio or video compression.
If your TV is 32″ or higher, you see the difference between the clarity of a BR over a DVD.
Note that depending on how it was filmed [technology] or the source video, you could get stunning video quality. Something like Lawrence of Arabia lo0oks great. That movie is 50+ years old.
Downside? Sometimes a higher price.

John MC cann

Slightly smaller case,which is normally blue,and a message that says welcome to 2021 mark g!

Mark G

Well, that seems to suggest that 2021 is supposed to be better, but so far….

I do have a large enough TV, and a bluray player, all fine

Having the wide-screen Lol of ‘Ara would make sense. Not so much a music fillum.

Ken C

On the Criterion releases I’ve considered the only difference between the DVD and Blu ray is the audio and video resolution. If it’s a music related release (i.e. I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Hard Day’s Night, etc.) I always get the Blu ray for the highest sound quality possible.

Mark S

There’s so much misdirection in this film and made up characters and downright falsehoods. It’s Dylan and Scorcese’s right to do so I guess. I really enjoyed it as an actual film as opposed to some serious documentary or straight forward concert film.
The Sharon Stone thing being a good example of the silliness. Quite a substantial side plot which is completely made up. Only Dylan could explain and of course he never will.
As others point out, a Bob Dylan “story” is the clue here.

kook

These are the fictional bits, for those who want to know:
rollingstone.com/movies/movie-news/rolling-thunder-revue-bob-dylan-story-doc-whats-fake-847231

CJ

I don’t understand the point of a fake “documentary,” at least not this one. The only other instance I can think of when it comes to a fake documentary is The Assassination of George W. Bush, which was hugely controversial, but 1) OBVIOUSLY fake, as Bush was alive, and 2) at least could be argued to serve a purpose as an exploration of what would happen in modern times if the US were to have another event like the Kennedy assassination (which seems much less hypothetical in the current insanity that is the American political climate right now). As evidence by even some of the comments on here, this isn’t likely to be a “joke” that most people are in on.