By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
The other part of I’m Not There that really stands out are the sequences with Charlotte Gainsbourg and Heath Ledger, which you can say relates to Dylan’s marriage and relationships but is also about other things about the ’60s, like the first stirrings of the women’s movement.
Yeah. It’s an extrapolation of things I collected in my research about his relationship to both his girlfriend Suze Rotolo and his marriage to Sara Lowndes. My criteria of how I put together the pieces of the film is that I tried to pay as much attention to his life as to his work. So the love songs themselves, which are outside the specifics of his relationships, are the product of those specifics. But they stand on their own, which is, of course, why we all can identify with them. So it was the love songs themselves that ultimately formed that particular story. In other words, not just the marriage but all sorts of things about the women he was attracted to. It made me very happy to hear that Suze Rotolo saw the film and really loved that section of it — and actually felt it was all about her.
Where is she now?
She actually just finished a book — her own memoir of the period. Finally, the woman speaks! I don’t know a lot of what she’s done over the years, but I know she’s maintained various careers in the arts. She was a visual artist at the time she and Dylan were going out. And she really did provide him with that sort of political involvement. Her interest in Brecht, Rimbaud and the other poets — that totally informed Dylan.
Where did you find Marcus Carl Franklin?
Isn’t he amazing? [Casting director] Laura Rosenthal found him in New York. He was the little boy in Lakawana Blues. I met him before I saw that film, and then I saw it and met with him again. He just floored us all.
Did you conceive the character as being a little boy, or did you make the character a little boy once you found the actor?
It was always an 11-year-old black kid.
Because it’s hard to get an 11-year-old kid who can act that knowingly.
Oh, I really lucked out. Every impossible demand this film made on me, I lucked out. It was only after I found what I needed that I was able to look back and consider the ways it could have failed — and get terrified in retrospect. But I guess that’s part of being a director — you’re just in a state of fright all the time and you keep marching forward. If you look back, you’ll turn into a pillar of salt.
The other cinematic disparity that’s really interesting is that the Richard Gere/Billy the Kid sections aren’t like Peckinpah’s movie Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, which Dylan acted in and wrote the score for.
No, they’re not. It’s not the most beautiful film, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. I was much more taken with films in the same category, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and McCabe and Mrs. Miller — and Dylan’s Renaldo and Clara.
In watching the movie, there’s a kind of generalized logic to why we’re moving from one story to another and one style to another. But there are many people who will have never seen anything like this before. I think there are going to be a lot of people very angry with you over this for reasons that they can’t quite explain. There’s a kind of sneaky audacity to doing a movie like this — an “art movie” for a general public. You’re prepared for a backlash, I trust?
I am, but I was prepared for a lot more of it than I’ve been receiving. You may have encountered resistance in conversations with some people you know, but the general reaction to the film has been good. I’ve been stunned at how positive people have been and that they’ve just let it all flow. But believe me, I was prepared for the contrary in today’s market. I was resolved to not care, to just let it be in the world and take the time it takes to be appreciated. Instead, starting with the premiere in Venice and the awards we got right away, the reception has been open and warm. I don’t mind trying to talk to people about it and helping them relax a little bit. But again, as you say, it’s the kind of movie people aren’t prepared for today. That doesn’t mean we were at other times — particularly the time the film’s reflecting. When I went to see 2001 with my dad at age 7 or 8, you went to that film, and so many other films, to not understand it. That was the excitement — to go and have interpretations, to see it again and basically go on a trip that was not cognitive, that was not rational, but that was so ultimately cinematic that you couldn’t look away.
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