Dylan the high-heeled marionette

whiteExcerpted from Rob White‘s book Todd Haynes.

The black-and-white poise of the re-created tour in I’m Not There softens the actual color footage of these 1966 performances, shot by Pennebaker for the unreleased film Eat the Document and excerpted in Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005).

When I reviewed this documentary for Sight and Sound, I was struck most of all by an impression that Dylan seems under major stress, jolted by the power of the band’s music, as if he had not simply picked up a Stratocaster but actually plugged himself into the mains—for example, performing “Like a Rolling Stone” in Newcastle: “Rickety-seeming and stick thin in a tight black velvet suit, Dylan looks like a high-heeled marionette. At his left, guitarist Robbie Robertson watches with an expression veering between concern and euphoria; he stands like a bodyguard while Dylan is convulsed by the song, which he shouts out—at one point cupping his hands around his mouth as if the better to let the words pour out of him, his exhausted eyes directed way over the heads of the audience, his face jerking skittishly as if he were being administered electric shocks.”