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|Kim Roberts||Mrs. Arvin|
|Julianne Moore||Alice Fabian|
|Michelle Williams||Coco Rivington|
|Christian Bale||Jack/Pastor John|
|Marcus Carl Franklin||Woody|
|David Cross||Allen Ginsberg|
|Bruce Greenwood||Keenan Jones|
|Cate Blanchett||Jude Quinn|
|Peter Friedman||Morris Bernstein|
|Christian Bale||Pastor John|
|Judy Becker||Production Design|
|Edward Lachman||Director of Photography|
|James D. Stern||Producer|
|John A. Dunn||Costume Design|
|Peter King||Makeup Artist|
|Rick Findlater||Makeup Artist|
|Todd Haynes||Story Contributor|
"All I Can Do Is Be Me Whoever That Is"
The film opens with the viewer in the role of Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchett) walking on stage to perform at a concert, before cutting to him riding on a motorcycle and then crashing. The film then cuts to Quinn's body on a mortuary slab and an autopsy begins.Woody Guthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin), an 11-year old African American boy, is seen carrying a guitar in a case as he travels the country, pursuing his dream of becoming a singer. (Folk singer Woody Guthrie had an identical label on his guitar.) Woody befriends the African-American Arvin family, who give him food and hospitality, and Woody in turn performs Bob Dylan's 1965 song "Tombstone Blues", accompanied by Richie Havens (as Old Man Arvin). At dinner, Mrs. Arvin advises Woody: "Live your own time, child, sing about your own time".Later that night, Woody leaves the Arvins' home, leaving behind a note thanking them, and catches a ride on a train, where a group of thieves attempt to rob him. He jumps from the speeding train and dives into a river, where a white couple rescue him and take him to a hospital, before bringing him home. They receive a phone call from a juvenile correction center in Minnesota from which Woody had escaped. The phone call prompts Woody's swift departure, and he takes a Greyhound bus to Greystone Park Hospital in New Jersey, where he visits (the real) Woody Guthrie, leaving flowers at Guthrie's bedside and playing his guitar. (Over the hospital sequence, Bob Dylan performs his song "Blind Willie McTell".)Ben Whishaw plays a young man who shares his name with the nineteenth century French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Arthur is solely seen in an interrogation room where he gives oblique answers to (unseen) questioners.Christian Bale plays Jack Rollins, a young folk singer, whose story is framed as a documentary and told by interviewees such as fictional folk singer named Alice Fabian—described by some critics as a Joan Baez-like figure—played by Julianne Moore. Rollins is praised by folk fans who refer to his songs as anthems and protest songs, whereas Jack himself calls them finger-pointing songs. When Rollins accepts the "Tom Paine Award" from a civil rights organization, a drunken Rollins insults the audience and claims that he saw something of himself in JFK's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. (Rollins's speech quotes from a speech Dylan made when receiving the Tom Paine Award from the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee in December 1963.)Bale also plays Pastor John, a Born Again Christian preacher, who appears to be the Jack Rollins character several years later, having traveled to California and entered a church to engage in Bible studies. He becomes a preacher and is seen declaring his faith to his fellow church members, where he performs "Pressing On" – a song written and performed by Dylan on his 1980 gospel-influenced album Saved.Heath Ledger plays Robbie Clark, an actor who is starring in a biopic about the life of Jack Rollins (the folk singer played by Christian Bale). This film-within-a-film is entitled Grain of Sand. (The film's title is a reference to the Dylan song "Every Grain of Sand".) We see how Robbie met his French artist wife Claire, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, in a Greenwich Village diner and they fell in love. (The scene in which Robbie and Claire run romantically through the streets of New York re-enacts the cover of the 1963 album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan which depicts Dylan arm in arm with his then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo walking down West 4th Street in Greenwich Village.) Robbie and Claire attend the premiere of the movie, which turns out to be a disappointment for Claire and the audience. Robbie and Claire's relationship begins to unravel, as Claire glimpses Robbie touching another woman at a party and is disturbed by his misogynistic attitude in comments such as "chicks can never be poets". At the end of their marriage, Robbie and Claire argue over custody of their children and Robbie and Claire file for divorce. The result of the custody battle seems to be in Claire's favor, but Robbie leaves taking his daughters on a boat trip while archival clips show Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho signing the Paris Peace Accords. (Bob Dylan was divorced from his first wife, Sara Dylan, on June 29, 1977 and the divorce involved legal wrangling over the custody of their children.) In the film, the relationship between Robbie and Claire lasts precisely as long as American involvement in the Vietnam War.Cate Blanchett plays Jude Quinn, seen at a concert in a New England town, performing a rock version of "Maggie's Farm" to the outraged folk music fans. (Dylan performed this song at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, which provoked booing and controversy.) Jude is seen arriving at a press conference in London and answering questions. (Some of these questions are quotes from Dylan's KQED press conference in San Francisco on December 3, 1965.) Later, in his hotel suite, Jude is threatened by a hotel waiter brandishing a knife, who is knocked out by Jude's lover with a vase. Jude's operations in London are supervised by his manager, Norman (who bears a resemblance to Bob Dylan's 1960s manager Albert Grossman), played by Mark Camacho. In a surreal episode, Jude is seen gambolling at high speed in a park with the Beatles, following a cloud of smoke presumed to represent Dylan's introducing the band to cannabis. (The speeded-up film echoes the style of Dick Lester's direction in A Hard Day's Night). Jude is then confronted by BBC cultural reporter, Keenan Jones, played by Bruce Greenwood (The name of this character echoes Dylan's song "Ballad of a Thin Man" with its chorus: "Something is happening here/ And you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?").Jude and his entourage meet the poet Allen Ginsberg, played by David Cross, who suggests that Jude may be "selling out" to God. Keenan Jones later asks Jude whether he cares about what he sings about every night, to which Jude replies, "How can I answer that if you've got the nerve to ask me?" and walks out of the interview. (Dylan made a similar response to a reporter from Time magazine in D. A. Pennebaker's documentary covering Dylan's 1965 English tour, Dont Look Back). The Dylan song "Ballad of a Thin Man" plays as Keenan Jones moves through a surreal episode in which he appears to act out the song's lyrics. Jones is seen obtaining a copy of Jude Quinn's high school year book. In concert, Jude performs "Ballad of a Thin Man", when one of his outraged fans shouts "Judas!" Jude replies "I don't believe you". (This scene re-enacts the "Judas!" shout at Dylan's Manchester concert on May 17, 1966. The moment is captured on Dylan's album Live 1966.) As the fans rush the stage in an apparent attempt to attack Jude, he narrowly escapes with his band.Back in his hotel suite, Jude watches Keenan Jones on television reveal that the true identity of Jude Quinn is "Aaron Jacob Edelstein" (In October 1963, Newsweek published a hostile profile of Dylan, revealing that he was originally named Robert Zimmerman, and implying that he had lied about his middle-class origins.). Jude later throws a party where his guests include Brian Jones, The Rolling Stones guitarist, and wealthy socialite and "queen of the underground" Coco Rivington, whom Jude insults. (The description of Rivington as "Andy's new bird" suggests that this character is modeled on Edie Sedgwick, a socialite and actress within Andy Warhol's circle.) As Jude's condition from drug usage worsens, he vomits in his friend's lap. Jude and Allen Ginsberg are later seen at the foot of a huge crucifix, apparently talking to Jesus. Jude shouts at the figure on the cross: "Why don't you do your early stuff?" and "How does it feel?!". After being whisked off in a car, Jude passes out on the floor while his friends stare down at him. Jude's manager, Norman observes: "I don't think he can get back on stage. He's gotten inside so many psyches – and death is just such a part of the American scene right now." Jude is last seen in his car directly addressing the viewer, "Everyone knows I'm not a folk singer".Richard Gere portrays the outlaw Billy the Kid. Billy searches unsuccessfully for his dog, Henry, and then meets his friend, Homer. Homer tells Billy about Pat Garrett's destruction of Riddle County and the high incidence of suicide and murder. As the townspeople celebrate Halloween, a funeral takes place and a band performs Dylan's Basement Tapes song "Goin' to Acapulco" (sung by Jim James and backed by the band Calexico). Following the service, Pat Garrett (Bruce Greenwood – who earlier in the film played Keenan Jones, a journalist who had tried to interrogate Jude Quinn) arrives and confronts the townspeople. Billy dons a mask to disguise himself and tells Garrett to stay clear of Riddle County. Garrett then orders the authorities to arrest Billy and he is taken to the county jail. Billy escapes from the jail (with the help of Homer) and hops a ride on a train. Billy then sees his dog, Henry, one last time. Billy finds a guitar on the train that reads "This Machine kills Fascists", the same guitar that Woody Guthrie played at the beginning of the film. Billy's final words are "People are always talking about freedom, the freedom to live a certain way without being kicked around. 'Course the more you live a certain way the less it feels like freedom. Me? I can change during the course of a day. When I wake I'm one person, when I go to sleep I know for certain I'm somebody else. I don't know who I am most of the time. It's like you got yesterday, today and tomorrow all in the same room. There's no telling what can happen."The film ends with a close-up of the real Bob Dylan playing an extended harmonica solo during a live performance of "Mr. Tambourine Man". The footage was shot by D. A. Pennebaker during Dylan's 1966 World Tour.
Theatrical : 2007-11-21 : United States of America
DVD : 2008-05-06