It isn't until you start hearing their stories, when you realize, these people are just ordinary people who were at the forefront of an extraordinary group intertwined with other extraordinary movements and standing in the peripheral of an extraordinary man in a very extraordinary time. Dylan showed us that in order for the world, the country, the state, and the neighborhood to be looked at and criticized, that we needed to delve into the source of all that: ourselves.
In this film, Director Joel Gilbert goes past the acknowledgement of Dylan's uniqueness, and shows us those who grew with him, worked with him, and even one who attempted to subvert him (in vain) from his objective. From this film, you see that most of those close to him actually "got it". His objective was to be himself, that what he did wasn't what he wanted to do, but what he had to do. And if you were there for the ride, run alongside, jump on, have fun. If not, stand back from the platform and watch it pass, because that train might slow, but it ain't stopping.
In Gilbert's film, we don't always get the whys or the wherefores, but we get it told to us like it was. With the words of the witnesses, it is a true documentary. We need to thank him, for putting a camera in front of these ordinary people and getting their stories out, not only about their connection to Dylan, but their connection to us.
My favorite parts are the little insights into these people as being part of Dylan's journey, yet having their own life. Whether it was Barry Feinstein talking about his marriage to Mary Travers, or A.J. Weberman looking through Dylan's garbage, or Al Aronowitz worshiping Dylan's immortality, these were people who rode that train for awhile and got off. But they will forever have a sticker on their life's suitcase of that part of the journey.
These were the people who came from being raised in the forties & early fifties. They became the beat generation, figurative children of jazz & folk traditions, brothers and sisters of the civil rights, anti-war and women's rights movements, parents to the late 60's flower power counterculture. Rules were being broken and rewritten and almost immediately broken again. There was no road map, no instruction book and their stories, as well as Feinstein's memorable photographs bear that out. They were losing their innocence, while gaining their strength. Their common bond went beyond Dylan to something greater and at the same time, simpler. Their connection was the music: its creation, documentation, presentation, assimilation, criticism and, yes, even business was tended to by the people assembled here. We find that they are ordinary people rising to the occasion to affect their own ripple in time. Inevitably, in looking back and listening, we see them as extraordinary.
Underlying it all in this flick is some great music by Gilbert's own Bob Dylan tribute band, Highway 61 Revisited. The instrumental soundtrack keeps the flavor of the era anchored enhancing the still photos without distracting from the live discourse, giving the viewer the feel of the New York City and Woodstock, NY locations.
Great photos, interviews & special bonus material. A must for any Dylan fan. For good measure, and putting it all into proper universal perspective, stay for the credits. Gilbert's outtakes of trying to recreate that famed motorcycle accident in upstate New York rival the ending credits of "Spinal Tap". It is a nice comic touch to remind us that it's only rock and roll.