One of the most famous documentaries in the history of classic rock is Dont Look Back starring Bob Dylan. While the movie is well-remembered, Dylan was not a huge fan of it. Here’s why he took issue with the film — and why he didn’t like movie people very much.
Why ‘Dont Look Back’ made Bob Dylan skeptical of the movie industry
During a 1969 interview with Rolling Stone, Jann S. Wenner asked Dylan about Dont Look Back. Dylan said “But you see, Jann, I don’t hold these movie people in too high a position. You know this movie, Dont Look Back? Well, that splashed my face all over the world, that movie Dont Look Back. I didn’t get a penny from that movie, you know… so when people say why don’t you go out and work and why don’t you do this and why don’t you do that, people don’t know half of what a lot of these producers and people, lawyers… they don’t know the half of those stories.”
While Dylan dismissed Dont Look Back, he also tried to say he wasn’t too bitter about the experience — even if it left him skeptical of moviemaking. “However, I’m an easy-going kind of fellow, you know… I’m forgive and forget [sic],” he said. “I like to think that way. But I’m a little shy of these people. I’m not interested in finding out anymore about any film.”
Did critics respond to ‘Dont Look Back’ the way Bob Dylan did?
Afterward, Wenner asked Dylan if he liked the film. “I’d like it a lot more if I got paid for it,” Dylan replied. Dylan’s view of the film, however, was not universal. In 2014, Rolling Stone ranked Dont Look Back as the greatest rock documentary of all time, above classics such as Woodstock, The T.A.M.I Show, and Gimme Shelter. Even decades after its release, Dont Look Back seemed to resonate.
Did Bob Dylan appear in movies after ‘Dont Look Back?’
During his interview with Rolling Stone, Dylan said he wasn’t interested in the movie industry anymore. Despite this, he appeared in a handful of other films following the release of Dont Look Back. For example, he was the subject of Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, which blends fact and fiction.
He also appeared in and co-wrote the avant-garde film Masked and Anonymous, which was written by Larry Charles, a comedian known for his work on Sacha Baron Cohen movies. Dylan even directed the movie Renaldo and Clara. While Dylan didn’t appear in as many famous films as other artists like Elvis Presley or The Beatles did, he has a fairly large filmography — even if he had some issues with Dont Look Back.