Rare Bob Dylan Documentary To Get Limited Theater Release

The 1966 'Eat the Document' film shows another side of the songwriter

Bob Dylan
Jan Persson/Redferns
Bob Dylan
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Bob Dylan is not a man who is easily embarrassed. Eat the Document, A long-buried film about his 1966 tour of England, is finally seeing the light of day – and it brings new meaning to the term "warts and all." Director D.A. Pennebaker made Eat the Document as a follow-up to his acclaimed Dylan study Don't Look Back. Document was originally intended for – but then rejected by – ABC-TV. Later, Pennebaker's version was re-edited by Dylan and cameraman Howard Alk; only now is it getting a limited theatrical release. Pennebaker followed Dylan on his second European tour with the Hawks (who would soon become the Band), filming them onstage and off in a jittery, hand-held cinéma vérité style. Like Dylan's music at the time, the resulting Document is raw and restless, revealing and riveting.

Plugging into an electric guitar pushed Bob Dylan to a musical peak; it also created a huge controversy among his reverent folkie followers. Throughout Eat the Document, Dylan is defiant, almost reveling in the taunts and catcalls from the audience. A succession of fans castigate the former folkie as a "sellout" on camera. After the show, besieged in the back of a limo, Dylan denies his autograph seekers with a sardonic laugh: "No! I saw you booing!"

Previously Unseen Bob Dylan Lyrics From 1965

In the road-life scenes, Dylan and his entourage seem to act for the camera and to interact with the real world at the same time, and the sights and sounds are indelible: Dylan locking guitars with an unrecognizably young Robbie Robertson on "Like a Rolling Stone," harmonizing with an angelic-looking Rick Danko on "One Too Many Mornings" while the audience claps and jeers in unified derision. "They can boo till the end of time," Dylan said in a mid-Sixties interview. "I know that the music is real, more real than the boos."

This story is from the November 11th, 1998 issue of Rolling Stone.


From The Archives Issue 799: November 12, 1998
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