I'm Not There: Limited Edition (2007)

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Released 28-May-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Biopic Additional Footage
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of-the Film
Featurette-Making Of-the Soundtrack
Interviews-Crew-Director Todd Haynes
Interviews-Crew-Q&A with Todd Haynes
Outtakes
Music Video-Subterranean Homesick Blues
Additional Footage-Auditions
Featurette-New York Premiere
Biographies-Cast-Heath Ledger Montage
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 129:41 (Case: 135)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Todd Haynes
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Cate Blanchett
Ben Whishaw
Christian Bale
Richard Gere
Marcus Carl Franklin
Heath Ledger
Kris Kristofferson
Don Francks
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

         By now everyone knows the huge conceit/gimmick at the core of this film which chronicles, or at least takes snapshot-like slices from, the life of Bob Dylan. At each of the stages the folk/rock star is played by different actors - and that's actors in the all embracing sense, including men, women and even a teen actor.

      Although a bold experiment, it can't be argued that there is a better subject for this approach than Bob Dylan. Dylan was both a man and a musician but he was also very much a symbol of his era, perhaps even eras. He was arguably the first musician to re-invent himself adopting different persona even different faiths.

      He has also been wilfully oblique and circumspect in explaining his own life. His liner notes, particularly from the 60's were incomprehensible and in person, and on screen in the documentary Don't Look Back, he was charismatic but inscrutable. Interviews from the mid-60s show a man who turned the interview process on its head, revealing more about the nature of celebrity than the soul of the subject. Even the excellent Scorsese documentary No Direction Home struggled with the nature of the man.

      In the end it is the idea of Dylan that continues to captivate our imagination, irrespective of CD releases.

      I'm Not There has little or no structure - it is a biographical film in the best sense of the word, seeking to invite the audience to understand and interpret the man whilst unapologetically providing few signposts. Director, Todd Haynes, strikes cinematic gold, not just in his idea of using a wide range of performers to play Dylan, but in his choice of those performers. Much has been made of Cate Blanchett as the mid-60's Dylan, a man at his creative and controversial prime. In this performance she shows why she is perhaps the finest actor working today, getting deep within the skin of the subject. Strangely, the feeling we are left with is that she may just be the "real" Dylan.

      This focus on Blanchett has unfortunately overshadowed some other fine performances. As said, this is an arthouse film in the truest sense. Haynes sets out to present a picture of themes in Dylan's life, intermingling it with real events.

      The characters are as follows:

      Each performer is perfectly attuned to the material. Franklin as a boy plays a seasoned musician trapped in the hobo mythology as the 60s rolled on. Gere gives his truest most compelling performance in ages and Ledger plays him as a man, any man, and eschews direct mimicry. The stories are told in a vaguely chronological fashion although Haynes plays fast and loose with time and reality.

      The title of the film comes from a rare Dylan song. But it is also a perfect introduction to a man who refused to be pigeonholed and remains something of an enigma. Critics of the film decry the fact that at the end of the movie we are no closer to unwrapping the enigma of this complex man. Proponents of the movie counter that this is the precise point Haynes was trying to make.

The film is a challenge at times and remains an art-house experience. It is long and Haynes never lets dramatic eruption spoil his delicately prepared canvas. Those who love Dylan will lap it up but those expecting a conventional biopic will walk away with their heads shaking. It is one of the most audacious American films of the last 20 years and will, I imagine, come to be regarded as an American classic defining the indefinable. When we see the real Dylan at the end he is like a ghost , a man alone in the Universe.

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Transfer Quality

Video

      I'm Not There is presented in a 2.35:1 transfer consistent with its original cinematic aspect ratio.

      It is 16x9 enhanced.

It is difficult to truly assess the quality of this transfer. In the directors commentary on the first DVD of this 2 DVD set Todd Haynes explains in great detail how he set out to achieve, and succeeded in achieving, a special look for each of the characters. He chose the 60s generally as his base but employed a dizzying series of techniques to meet his intentions. He used 8mm, 16mm, digital intermediate and 35mm film and every segment has it's own treatment. He set out to get a muted colour look for the "black Dylan" scenes. In the "Rimbaud" scenes there is a strong grain present resulting from blowing up the original stock. Black and white mingles with colour. The look was for the "actor Dylan" scenes is described by Haynes as "warm decor with cool filtration". In shooting these scenes he relied heavily on the Godard films of the 60s, in particular Masculin/Feminin and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her.

In short the picture quality of this film varies according to the source and the directors intentions. So when I say that the colour scenes are a little dull and lack a certain crispness it is not a flaw according to the intentions of Todd Haynes .

The print itself is clear and without defects. There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    I'm Not There has a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track running at 448 Kb/s and a DTS track running at 768 Kb/s. Not surprisingly the DTS track is crisper and beefier but either does a pretty good job of selling the movie. Apart from the music there is little chance for the full surround presence to make itself felt and the subwoofer really only kicked in with the bass.

As a film about Dylan it is inevitable that the master's songs would dominate and there are only a few tracks by other artists. Unlike many a musical biopic I'm Not There features a selection of Dylan's music that is hardly a greatest hits package. As a Dylan fan Haynes went deep into the catalogue to pull out apt songs. Only a few are performed by Dylan himself. The rest are interesting sometimes revelatory cover versions. The songs span the beginning of his career through the 60s and 70s.Whilst Ballad of a Thin Man and Like a Rolling Stone are always showstoppers, little known tracks like Goin to Acapulco and The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll are performed with new meaning. Pressing On was another favourite.

The quality of the soundtrack is excellent. Audio sync is fine. The voices are clear and easy to understand although young Marcus Franklin spoke a little fast for me to catch all his dialogue.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

I'm Not There comes in a single DVD edition and the deluxe 2 DVD set. The single DVD set apparently features only the directors commentary.

Directors Commentary

Todd Haynes is an intelligent, clear-thinking and clear-speaking director and this comes through in the commentary. He makes the time breeze by as he talks about the origin of the project, the casting process and the joys of actually making the film. This is an excellent commentary and enhances the viewing experience.

Making of I'm Not There 15.17

The Making of feature is a fairly detailed look at the background to the film as well as the shooting process and includes interviews with all the main players.

Making of the Soundtrack 20.12

Not surprisingly the making of the soundtrack earns a fully detailed featurette. A great deal of attention was paid to selecting the musical performers from alt rockers Sonic Youth who perform the titular song, to legendary blues man Richie Havens. Interesting fact - Marcus Carl Franklin is the only lead actor who actually sings his songs.

A Conversation with Todd Haynes 40.48

This is not actually one conversation but rather a series of interviews with Haynes cobbled together into a cohesive whole. The information is repeated in the commentary track and the Q&A below.

A Directors Q & A 15.33

Haynes is interviewed about the whole background to the production and the decision to use different actors. Interestingly, there were only a few moments where Cate Blanchett needed to have her pitch lowered to play male. Haynes never met Dylan and has yet to hear whether he likes the film.

New York Premiere 2.41

The stars (some of them) are interviewed on the red carpet.

Extended/Alternate Scenes (4)

Actually, these are pretty much the music videos, with preamble, for the following songs - Tombstone (3.11), Hattie Carroll (5.37), Going to Acapulco (3.12) and Pressing On (6.42). A nice extra for four of the most moving scenes from the film.

Deleted Scenes

There are two short deleted scenes included - Silver Club Bathroom (.52)and Mrs Baker (1.57). The former has Blanchett passing out in the bathroom and the latter Gere talks to a woman about his missing dog.

Subterranean Homesick Blues Music Videos

An interesting extra. Haynes recreates the famous Subterranean Homesick Blues video from Don't Look Back with the individual cast members doing it "live". There is also an edited version (long and short) with all the cast.

Heath Ledger Montage 3.07

This is a nice series of Heath Ledger moments from the film set to the impossibly sad, rare Dylan tune Tomorrow is a Long Time .

Outtakes and Gag Reel 4.02

This is more outtakes than gags as there are a lot of scenes with cast crew members walking on set mixed in with line fluffs and a pooping horse.

Auditions 4.24

Two of the actors are featured - Marcus Carl Franklin and Ben Whishaw.

This review copy was supplied without packaging. The retail copy apparently includes deluxe slipcase packaging and a 16 page booklet.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

  The Region 1 2 DVD edition has a few more extras chucked into the mix, including the ability to skip to the songs in the film. It also has some introductions and extra notes. Unless you deem them indispensable I would stick to Region 4.

Summary

        I'm Not There is an instant classic that will reward those with the patience to let it works its magic. If ever there was a way to really understand the nature of Dylan then this is probably it.

      The video and audio transfer are top notch bearing in mind that the director has employed a series of techniques including making the film look bad to achieve his effect.

The extras are extensive.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
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