Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dylan's Fiascoes: Renaldo And Clara (1978)

"Renaldo and Clara, to me, wasn't long enough."
Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is an artist of such power and presence that even his fiascoes can be fascinating. When contemplating the range of Dylan's spectacular falls, whether its Tarantula, Isle of Wright, Self-Portrait, Live at Budakon, "Street Rock" or Hearts of Fire, the four-hour improv experiment/concert film Renadlo and Clara certainly looms large. What we have below isn't the entirety of the critically-drubbed film (synopsis) but it's over half of it and even then it can be endurance-defying. Thankfully, the footage of the Rolling Thunder Revue is incredible. So, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, those less interested in plumbing the depths of Dylan's work, can just skip to the concert scenes. Via.

"Americans are spoiled. They expect art to be like 
wallpaper, with no effort, just to be there."
Bob Dylan on critical reaction to Renaldo and Clara.

Let us know what you think of Dylan's Renaldo and Clara in the COMMENTS section.

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  1. The first thing you have to accept about “Renaldo And Clara” is that it is not a film “about” the 1975 tour. It is a movie about relationships and love and its many facets. Just like the movie that inspired it – “Les Enfants du Paradis/Children Of Paradise”. “R & C” takes place in the world of rock music, “Children Of Paradise” takes place in the world of theatre, but “R & C” is not “about” rock music, just as “Children Of Paradise” is not “about” theatre.
    As with all of Dylan’s works (music, movies, literature, painting) you should not watch the movie and rate it based on your preconceived ideas of what it “should” be like. You should always regard Dylan’s work as a journey that will teach you something. Often it teaches you something about something that you didn’t even know existed.

    The movie is a masterpiece in its original 4hrs version. But you need to watch it several times to understand the system that was used to construct the film. According to Alan Ginsberg the movie was edited based on a system Dylan had laid out on index cards. There are recurring themes and motifs (the rose, the lady in white, the use of certain colors, the use of masks, “reality” vs. stage etc. etc.). Each scene was assigned one of those themes/motifs and the movie was constructed along those lines. Furthermore one interpretation sees the whole movie as Renaldo’s dream. Check the scene of Dylan as Renaldo “waking up” near the end of the movie. The dream interpretation would explain the dream-like flow of the film.

    In order to get into the film it helps to study the movie that inspired it: the French movie “Les Enfants du Paradis/Children Of Paradise” (1945). A movie that also uses stage performances to comment on the relationships between the protagonists, just like “R & C”. “Les Enfants du Paradis/Children Of Paradise” also is a very long movie (approx. 200 mins). The famous “Rolling Thunder Revue” logotype was inspired by the opening title card of “Les Enfants du Paradis/Children Of Paradise”. Both films feature one of the leading characters in whiteface, both have a “woman in white”, both repeatedly use flowers as a prominent symbol, both alternate between on-stage, back-stage and “real life” scenes, the dialogue in “R & C” shares similarities with the dialogue in “Les Enfants du Paradis/Children Of Paradise” and both films use a cubist approach in that they present the main characters from the differing perpectives of the other characters.

    You need to know “Les Enfants du Paradis/Children Of Paradise” in order to fully understand what “Renaldo And Clara” is all about. If you approach this film expecting it to be a tour film “about” the “Rolling Thunder Revue”, you’ll get nothing out of it.

    The passage of time has added another dimension to the movie – what you see in the film is almost like a documentary about a lost world. Just check the footage shot in New York City (in 1975 – when Scorsese shot “Taxi Driver” in the same city).

    Just like, say, “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” is Dylan’s version of Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Automobile” (1948) or “Pledging My Time” is his version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Sitting On Top Of The World” (1957) [and other, older blues songs] or “Someday Baby” is his version of “Trouble No More” by Muddy Waters and “Hate To See You Go” by Little Walter (both from 1955), “Renaldo And Clara” is his version of “Les Enfants du Paradis/Children Of Paradise”. If you do not know Dylan’s sources and inspirations and the spin he puts on the traditions that have been handed down through generations, you only get half the picture.

    Mr. Echo

    1. "You need to know 'Les Enfants du Paradis/Children Of Paradise' in order to fully understand what “Renaldo And Clara” is all about."

      Oh brutha!

  2. You should sit down and see it again, it's a misunderstood masterpiece. Yes, really!

  3. Replies
    1. That's the track he did with Kurtis Blow

  4. Maybe Street Legal? If so - what a gross misrepresentation...

    1. See above for the context, which I didn't know Dylan fans would need to be schooled about.

  5. Mr. Echo sounds like a Trekkie explaining the moral interpretations from "The Trouble With Tribbles".

  6. R&C (I own a full length copy and have watched it several times) is certainly interesting to me as Dylan fan, the musical scenes are brilliant but as a film experience it's pretty friggin' awful.

  7. Lots of people love music and keep on downloading music but we need to follow the music law to avod problems. It's better to get music licensed that pirated. It's quite expensive but worth the price because of its good quality.


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