Kicking off a week in which public television will rethink the sixties, Martin Scorsese has finally gotten around to doing for Bob Dylan what he did for the Band back in 1978. If No Direction Home is less a concert film and more of an American Masters documentary than The Last Waltz was, it is so much longer (by about an hour and a half) that we end up with the same amount of music anyway, and most of this music hasn’t been nibbled to death by cretinous videoheads who think that what they have to say is more interesting than the music they say it about. Though talk there is—Scorsese got Dylan to sit still in a black T-shirt and a leather jacket long enough to make it clear that the early protest songs matter as little to him in the long run as the feelings of Joan Baez, who is also interviewed and who, like Lena Horne, has simply grown more beautiful with each passing decade. (Maybe there’s something in that diet of folkie pacifism after all.) The odd thing is that Scorsese closes up shop, after 210 minutes, in 1966—as if the motorcycle accident had killed instead of merely injured Dylan; as if he were to be counted among the fatalities and martyrdoms of the era, like Janis, Jimi, and Jim Morrison; as if he had never found God or gone on, in his lonely bus on his Never-Ending Tour, for another 39 years and counting. I can’t say what a drag it was to see him, but somewhere along the line the vandal stole the handle.
September 26 and 27
9 P.M. Channel 13