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.
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