これは、マイルス・デイビスやジョン・レノンのように、音楽様式がくるくる変わる音楽家の中でも、ボブ・ディランほど、そのペルソナを変えてきたものはいないという事実からのことだが、この映画が大成功と言えないのは、なぜディランが中流階層のユダヤ系という背景(a middle-class Jewish background)からフォークバラッドの歌い手(folk balladeer)となったのか、そしてまた何故ロック詩人(rock poet)へと、また田舎へ戻った落伍者(back-to-the-country dropout)へと、はたまたキリスト教再生派(born-again Christian)へと、また死から蘇った放蕩もの(risen-from-the-dead rake)*1へと、かようにめまぐるしく変わったのか、整理できていないからだという。
ディランのものでは、ニューポートのDVDである"Other Side of the Mirror: Live at Newport Folk Fes [DVD] [Import]"、ZXMラジオの"Theme Time Radio Hour"や本も出ている。
A noble failure in grasping Bob Dylan
By Ed Siegel Published: December 4, 2007
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of "I'm Not There," Todd Haynes's movie about Bob Dylan, is that it couldn't have been made about any other musical artist. Others have changed musical styles with as much regularity as Dylan - Miles Davis and John Lennon come to mind (not to mention Igor Stravinsky). But nobody has actually changed personas the way Dylan has, so Haynes's idea to have six actors, including an African-American boy and an Australian woman, portray him is a much smarter way to get at what makes Dylan tick than the biographical approach of recent movies about Johnny Cash or Ray Charles.
The reason the film is more a noble failure than abstract success is that Haynes doesn't really come to terms with why Dylan went from a middle-class Jewish background to folk balladeer to rock poet to back-to-the-country dropout to born-again Christian to the risen-from-the-dead rake he's become. The knock on Dylan has always been that he's merely a poseur appropriating these personas, and the chopped-up narrative of the movie gives some credence to a downgraded vision of Dylan.
The fascinating thing about Dylan, though, is that all these personas add up, and have always added up, to one artist. Haynes tries to square the Dylanesque circle in the final scene of the film, but it's not enough. Haynes is content to leave the various Dylans unintegrated.
Dylan has always shifted identities when he's needed to jump-start his art, beginning when Robert Zimmerman decided to become Bob Dylan. Since then, whenever there have been artistic dead ends - and there've been quite a few - a new Dylan seems to rise out of the ashes of the old, sometimes even with a new name - Alias in the Sam Peckinpah film, "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," Lucky Wilbury with the Traveling Wilburys. Sometimes he's even obliterated his identity, appearing in white face on the Rolling Thunder tour. Each of these changes represented a rebirth. It's as if he's had to periodically stop being Bob Dylan, stop being Dylan the legend that his audiences expected in order to become Dylan the artist. Some of these changes have had people calling for his blood - the folkies who hated his rock, the secularists who hated his turn to Jesus.
"I'm Not There" is only part of the wealth of high-quality material that Dylan has allowed to emerge in recent years. (He gave Haynes his blessing to make the movie, though even Haynes, when he was interviewed on public radio, didn't know if he had seen it.) In the past few years, there've been Martin Scorsese's public television documentary, "No Direction Home"; the first volume of "Chronicles," Dylan's autobiography; the DVD, Murray Lerner's "The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965"; and, most surprising, Dylan's fabulous weekly radio show, "Theme Time Radio Hour," on XM Radio.
What's most striking about these slices of Dylan's life aren't his changes of persona, but how he constantly reintegrates those changes into a refreshed and vital artist. How much difference is there, really, between the folkie's "Blowin' in the Wind" and the beat poet's "Chimes of Freedom"? Aren't "A Hard-Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and the Christian-based "Slow Train" two sides of Zimmerman's rabbinical coin? When you read "Chronicles," it's obvious that Dylan has always been alert to not let other people's expectations define him, as in this wrenching passage about his lost-in-the-'80s downturn into an oldies' act.
"I was lingering out on the pavement. There was a missing person inside of myself and I needed to find him . . . I felt done for, an empty burned-out wreck . . . Wherever I am, I'm a '60s troubadour, a folk-rock relic, a wordsmith from bygone days, a fictitious head of state from a place nobody knows."
It wasn't the first time Dylan arrived at such a place and the artist who emerged from that near-death experience is as strong, and integrated, as ever. When you listen to his last three CDs and his radio show, you hear someone who's brought it all back home - the off-center political riffs, the country music and rhythm 'n' blues he grew up with, the eye for sexy women, the biblical warnings about material things, even the pop rock he played as a member of Bobby Vee's band.
If you were to make a movie about this Bob Dylan, you might title it, "I'm All Here."
Ed Siegel is a former theater critic for The Boston Globe, where this article first appeared.