No Direction Home is Released

No Direction Home is a documentary film by Martin Scorsese that traces the life of Bob Dylan, and his impact on 20th century American popular music and culture.

The film does not cover Dylan's entire career; it concentrates on the period between Dylan's arrival in New York in January 1961 and his "retirement" from touring, following his motorcycle accident in July 1966. This period encapsulates Dylan's rise to fame as a folk singer and songwriter, and the controversy surrounding his switch to a rock style of music. The film was first shown on television in both the United States (as part of the American Masters series on PBS) and the United Kingdom (as part of the Arena series on BBC Two) on September 26–27 2005. A DVD version of the film and accompanying soundtrack album (The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack) were released that same month.

The project eventually titled as No Direction Home began to take shape in 1995 when Dylan's manager, Jeff Rosen, began scheduling interviews with Dylan's friends and associates. Among those interviewed were poet Allen Ginsberg and folk musician Dave Van Ronk, both of whom died before the film was completed. Dylan's old girlfriend Suze Rotolo also granted a rare interview, and she later told Rolling Stone Magazine that she was very pleased with the project's results. Dylan himself also sat for ten hours in a relaxed and open conversation with Rosen in 2000.

What I feel for Dylan now and did not feel before is empathy. His music stands and it will survive. Because it embodied our feelings, we wanted him to embody them, too. He had his own feelings. He did not want to embody ours. We found it hard to forgive him for that. He had the choice of caving in or dropping out. The blues band music, however good it really was, functioned also to announce the end of his days as a standard-bearer. Then after his motorcycle crash in 1966, he went away into a personal space where he remains.

Watching him singing in "No Direction Home," we see no glimpse of humor, no attempt to entertain. He uses a flat, merciless delivery, more relentless cadence than melody, almost preaching. But sometimes at the press conferences, we see moments of a shy, funny, playful kid inside. And just once, in his recent interviews, seen in profile against a background of black, we see the ghost of a smile.