A Look at Survivors of the Counter-Culture, Bob Dylan and Jane Fonda

Jessie  Emkic in Le Monde Diplomatique (English edition):

In recent years there has been a revival of interest in Dylan’s life and work. Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home (2005) chronicles Dylan’s evolution between 1961 and 1966. And Todd Haynes’ new movie I’m Not There (2007) shows Dylan from various perspectives; it is a construction and deconstruction of Dylan’s life and character that uses a multiple storyline structure to express his complexity. Haynes started research for the movie when he left New York to live in Portland, Oregon, and bought an anthology of American folk music in Kansas on his drive across the country. Dylan’s early Columbia recordings had touched a nerve: by night Haynes wrote his earlier movie Far From Heaven (2002) and by day he listened to Dylan’s music, reading interviews and books about him. Haynes called it a “fresh flood of change”.

Haynes uses several parallel stories to describe Dylan’s life in I’m Not There. The inspiration to use a different actor for the part in each story came from Allen Ginsberg, who once described Dylan as a “collection of American archetypes”. Ginsberg, dissident poet, passionate Vietnam war opponent and Dylan’s friend, was one of the few openly homosexual celebrities of the time. Haynes claims that Dylan “loved Ginsberg, was completely unthreatened by Ginsberg’s homosexuality and probably had a huge crush on him.” But Dylan was also known to have made very homophobic remarks when he became a born-again Christian in 1980. “Dylan fully occupied each of these mentalities,” said Haynes, “and was committed to them totally at the time, but he would also discard them.”