Of the 70 people who set off on Bob Dylan's barnstorming 1975–76 Rolling Thunder Revue tour, 15 were film crew. Tasked with capturing the remarkable live shows featuring guests like Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Mick Ronson and Joni Mitchell, they also shot improvisational backstage scenes that became the avant-garde 1978 film Renaldo and Clara.
More than 40 years later, Netflix presents a fresh lookat the 1975 leg of the legendary tour with Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. As in Scorsese's acclaimed 2005 Dylan documentary, No Direction Home, the filmmaker created his work from more than 100 hours of original footage, alongside recent interviews with several participants, including the legendary singer-songwriter himself.
"This documentary captures the essence of that tour, but it was more than just a tour," says writer Larry "Ratso" Sloman, who tagged along and chronicled the experience in his 1978 book On the Road With Bob Dylan.
Noting Dylan's advocacy for imprisoned boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (two of the shows served as fundraisers), "It was a cultural event," Sloman continues, "and now we have a complete document of that event."
Of course, Dylan's music takes center stage, so expect to hear classics like "Simple Twist of Fate" and "Blowin' in the Wind." Says Sloman, "Some of these scenes are amazing, close, up-your-nose photography of Bob singing. This will really give people a greater appreciation for what Bob did then — and what he continues to do."
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan story by Martin Scorsese, Documentary Premiere, Wednesday, June 12, Netflix