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Rolling Thunder Revue Criterion Blu-ray Review

“Rolling Thunder Revue” is another rewarding Bob Dylan documentary.

“Rolling Thunder Revue” (AKA “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese” is a 2019 documentary of sorts about the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue concert tour which featured the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Allen Ginsberg, among other musicians/artists. I say of sorts because there are elements of this doc that are entirely fictional ala the snobby filmmaker Stefan van Dorp and Sharon Stone’s stories. ‘Rolling’ even crosses over with a mockumentary in Altman’s “Tanner ‘88” to make the proceedings even more bizarre. Are Dylan and Scorsese toying with the audience? Are memories hazy? Are fact and fiction just blurred? Perhaps all of the above.

Structurally, the movie is comprised of archival outtakes from Dylan’s own movie “Renaldo and Clara,” behind-the-scenes footage and concert footage, along with newly shot interviews. 

The Rolling Thunder Revue tour may have been a financial bust, but all these years later, it’s clear that Dylan and company captured something special. This variety/revue show was a bold creative risk that felt like a real communal experience for the artists and the attendees. On top of that, it delivered electrifying live performances and showcased the importance of art. Who knew that 2 years after the film’s release that this documentary could remind us of the raw energy of live performances that we now so desperately crave and hope to experience again one day. 

In terms of ‘Rolling’ as a film, it’s a strange one to say the least. Scorsese directs it like a standard documentary but if you dig deeper you’ll discover that it’s filled with truths, half-truths, and fabrications. In many ways it feels like the perfect approach for a documentary about Dylan as an artist and a person. He’s always been an evasive and witty individual who forges his own path and goes against the norm.

Note: if you dug this movie, I highly recommend checking out the CD box set “The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings” which contains a whopping 14 discs of Dylan’s music from the tour.


Presentation: 1.33:1 and 1.78:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K digital master cleans up the archival footage and gives the new footage a crystal clear look.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The interviewees and the music performances sound sharp throughout.

* A thick booklet with credits, an essay author Dana Spiotta, photos, writings from the tour by Sam Shepard, Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman
* “Rolling Thunder Revue” trailer
* A restoration demo/featurette.
* 3 additional performances of the songs “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You,” “Romance In Durango,” and “Tangled Up In Blue.”
* A new interview with Ratso (AKA Larry Sloman) who talks about everything from his nickname to the account of the road tour.
* A new interview with editor David Tedeschi.
* A 17 minute 2019 interview with Martin Scorsese who talks about making the doc, Dylan, the past footage and more. 


January 17, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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