Friday, May 16, 2008

"I'm Not There"

I'm Not There is a film based on the life and legend of Bob Dylan.  The movie follows six different characters who each personify part of Dylan's life, although have different names.  The six characters are played by prominent actors, Woody Guthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin), Jack Rollins (Christian Bale), Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchette), Robbie Clark (Heath Ledger), Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw), and an aging Billy the Kid (Richard Gere), who all do a phenomenal job .  One of the most interesting parts was the way in which the film was shot.  According to Wikipedia (since I'm not very knowledgeable on the technical aspects of film) :

The story lines are shot in different film stocks and styles.  The scenes featuring Woody Guthrie, Robbie Clark, and Billy the Kid are in color.  The scenes involving Jack Rollins/Pastor John are shot on 16mm color stock, and are framed as a documentary with interviews from people who knew him.  Scenes featuring Jude Quinn are shot in back and white, and use surreal imagery based on those of Federico Fellini's 8 1/2.  Arthur Rimbaud's scenes are shot on very grainy back and white stock.

Part of what captured and fascinated me was the use of the different film stocks and accompanying styles to create different emotions, sensations, and opinions to the corresponding characters.  The more real and more relatable their problems (or should I say Dylan's problems) were to the viewer, the more 'high quality' color film stock used.  I say this because Franklin, Gere, and Ledger's characters were very real to me.  They were people I pass by on the streets every day.  They have some of the same internal struggles viewers can identify with; I can identify with.  I wonder if the actors cast for each role were picked also due to some personal aspects they could lend to their characters.  Perhaps a long shot, but is it too much to wonder?  

Heath Ledger delivers yet another stunning performance causing small pangs of sorrow.  I like Ledger as an actor.  I've always been a fan of his versatility and ability to avoid getting typecast.   I thought he was a bold and daring performer.  Cate Blanchette simply blew me away.  I also loved the use of cross dressing and gender blending to portray Dylan in the 60s.  Blanchette actually made Dylan appear attractive.  Never have I found him such, but Blanchette is a beautiful person thus made her character, and subsequent personification of Dylan, beautiful.  Blanchette has been quoted to saying that she wore a sock in her pants to play the role in order to "walk like a man".  I've always been curious as to what that feels like and have even gone so far to ask.  Asking a biological man was silly at best, since they don't know other wise... in hindsight I should have asked a FTM or MTF.  Perhaps more expertise.  Any how, I digress...

While watching the film with my family and sister, I couldn't help but wonder if I was missing some deeper meaning.  My mom kept saying she didn't get it, naturally making me second guess if I understood the movie.  Once the movie was over and I had reviewed somethings on the internet, I discovered that my confusion was based more in my own lack of knowledge of Dylan's life than a lack of understanding of the film.  The film is somewhat biographical in that it takes key elements from Dylan's life and creates a character around it.  By not knowing why or what a particular character represents, I did miss something.  Overall, I'm pretty sure I enjoyed the film.  I'd like to see it again sometime.  Perhaps when I know slightly more about Dylan's life than just his poetic songs.

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