Bob Dylan is captured on-screen as he never would be again in this ground-breaking film from D. A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop, Company). The legendary documentarian finds Dylan in London during his 1965 tour, which would be his last as an acoustic artist and marked a turning point in his career. In this wildly entertaining vision of one of the twentieth century’s greatest artists thrust into the spotlight, Dylan is surrounded by teen fans; gets into heated philosophical jousts with journalists; and kicks back with fellow musicians Joan Baez, Donovan, and Alan Price. Featuring some of Dylan’s most famous songs, including “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Don’t Look Back is a radically conceived and shot portrait of an American icon that has influenced decades of vérité behind-the-scenes documentaries.
Details of new version:
– New, restored 4K digital transfer with restored mono sound from the original quarter-inch master tapes presented uncompressed on the Blu-ray.
– Audio commentary from 1999 featuring D.A. Pennebaker and tour manager Bob Neuwirth.
– ’65 Revisited, a 2006 documentary by Pennebaker.
– Audio excerpt from a 2000 interview with Bob Dylan for “No Direction Home”, cut to previously unseen outtakes from ‘Dont Look Back’ [4 minutes].
–New documentary about the evolution of Pennebaker’s filming style which includes three short films by Pennebaker: “Daybreak Express” (1953), “Baby” (1954), and “Lambert & Co”. (1964) [29.05 minutes].
–New conversation between Pennebaker and Neuwirth about their work together [34 minutes].
– Snapshots from the Tour, featuring never-before-seen outtakes from “Dont Look Back”. These “snapshots” are all new and do not appear in any previous of the official releases or bootlegs [26.03 minutes].
– New interview with Patti Smith [14 minutes]
– Conversation between Greil Marcus and Pennebaker from 2010 [17.49 minutes]
– Alternate version of the ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ cue card sequence [2:17 minutes].
– Five audio recordings of Dylan songs not used in the film.
– A booklet featuring an essay by critic and poet Robert Polito.
One of the biggest improvement is in the uncompressed sound. The audio restoration is quite noticeable thanks to a meticulous process that involved going back to the quarter-inch master tapes in Pennebaker’s vaults. Criterion’s audio supervisor Ryan Hullings said the tapes were in excellent physical condition but no one could play them!
“The problem”, Hullings said, “was that the tapes used a special version of Fairchild Sync, which was only used for a very, very brief time in the mid-Sixties … and modern tape heads can’t read it. I looked all over New York for someone who could transfer the audio … and no one could play them”.
Hullings was rescued by former Kiss roadie and West Coast resident Peter Oreckinto. An analogue film-audio freak, Oreckinto built a bespoke tape head from scratch that could read the long outdated tape signal. He then sent a test audio sample to Criterion with a note that said “I have no idea whether this will sync up, but give it a shot”. It did and the results can now be found on “Dont Look Back The Criterion Collection”.