Martin Scorsese to direct film about Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue


Netflix documentary will feature new interviews with the legendary songwriter about his celebrated mid-70s tour

Laura Snapes

Netflix has announced that Martin Scorsese will direct a documentary about Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story will feature new on-camera interviews with the legendary songwriter.

The streaming platform says the film “captures the troubled spirit of America in 1975 and the joyous music that Dylan performed during the fall of that year.” It is due later this year.

Variety reports that the film will be less straightforward than Scorsese’s 2005 Dylan documentary, No Direction Home, which focused on the songwriter’s rise to fame, his move to New York and temporary retirement following a motorcycle accident in July 1966. “Scorsese provides the master vision,” wrote critic Roger Ebert on that film’s release, “and his factual footage unfolds with the narrative power of fiction.”

The Rolling Thunder Revue was a freewheeling multi-artist caravan that began in October 1975 and concluded in May 1976. Artists including Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Mick Ronson, Bette Midler, Roger McGuinn, Emmylou Harris and Allen Ginsberg joined Dylan on the autumn leg of the tour, which is said to be the focus of Scorsese’s film. Dylan’s mother also appeared. Dylan frequently performed in white face paint.

It is one of the most noteworthy tours in rock history: “The Rolling Thunder Revue shows remain some of the finest music Dylan ever made with a live band,” wrote critic Clinton Heylin in his 1991 Dylan biography Behind the Shades. In 2002, an official recording of the tour was released in Dylan’s Bootleg Series.

Dylan engaged Sam Shepard as a screenwriter for a film about the tour, although the result was largely improvised. Released in 1978, Renaldo and Clara featured live footage, interviews and dramatised fictional portions about Dylan’s life. He was billed as Renaldo and his first wife, Sara Dylan, as Clara. It clocked in at almost four hours and was panned by critics.

Scorsese’s film is not the only Dylan feature in the works. Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino has said he is directing a film based on Dylan’s 1975 album Blood on the Tracks, to be written by The Fisher King and The Bridges of Madison County screenwriter Richard LaGravenese.

Dylan will perform a rare UK concert this summer, sharing the bill with Neil Young at London’s Hyde Park on 12 July. Scorsese’s next slated feature film is another Netflix production, The Irishman, about the mafia-union wars of the 70s.



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