Video: Bob Dylan’s ‘Renaldo & Clara’ Released 36 Years Ago

Thirty-six years ago, on January 25, 1978, Bob Dylan’s epic four-plus hour film “Renaldo & Clara” began a limited theatrical run, opening in New York City and Los Angeles.

The film screened in a handful of additional cities and then was pulled. Later that year a short version was released. I saw that version, found it very intriguing but also quite confusing.

Janet Maslin’s January 26, 1978 review of the film in the New York Times begins like this:

THERE’S an insolence about “Renaldo and Clara,” the four-hour film written and directed by Bob Dylan and featuring members of his Rolling Thunder Revue, that is not easily ignored. Mr. Dylan, who has a way of insinuating that any viewer who doesn’t grasp the full richness of his work must be intellectually deficient or guilty of some failure of nerve, has seen fit to produce a film that no one is likely to find altogether comprehensible. Yet for anyone even marginally interested in Mr. Dylan—and for anyone willing to accept the idea that his evasiveness, however exasperating, is a crucial aspect of his finest work — “Renaldo and Clara” holds the attention at least as effectively as it tries the patience.

No knowledge of Mr. Dylan or his history is supposed to be central to an understanding of the film, but it nevertheless trades heavily upon his past. The singer David Blue, playing himself, talks about the artistic climate of Greenwich Village when Mr. Dylan first arrived there, and Joan Baez is rather coyly cast as Mr. Dylan’s former lover. Mr. Dylan, even more coyly, is cast as someone other than himself, a very vague figure named Renaldo.

Read more here.

Director: Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan … Renaldo
Sara Dylan … Clara
Joan Baez … Woman in White
Ronnie Hawkins … Bob Dylan
Jack Elliott … Longheno de Castro
Harry Dean Stanton … Lafkezio
Bob Neuwirth … The Masked Tortilla
Allen Ginsberg … The Father
David Mansfield … The Son
Helena Kallianiotes … Herself
Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter … Himself
T-Bone Burnett … The Inner Voice

Joan Baez and Dylan in “Renaldo & Clara”:

“One More Cup of Coffee”:

An hour plus of the film:

Check out this cool post about the film at the Johanna’s Visions site.

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

About Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg is a distinguished pioneer in the online music space; Newsweek magazine called him an ‘Internet visionary.’ In 1994 he founded Addicted To Noise (ATN), the highly influential music web site. He was a senior vice-president and editor in chief at SonicNet from March 1997 through May 2000. In 1997, Addicted To Noise won Webby awards for best music site in 1998 and 1999, and also won Yahoo Internet Life! awards for three years running as best music site in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Prior to starting Addicted To Noise, Goldberg was an editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications. Michael recently completed his first novel, Days of the Crazy-Wild, and is currently writing a second novel.

One thought on “Video: Bob Dylan’s ‘Renaldo & Clara’ Released 36 Years Ago

  1. Wish they would release the concert parts as a (what an idea) concert film. At least Dylan and some of the major players (Baez, McGinn etc)

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