If I said that the Todd Haynes movie I’m Not There is about Bob Dylan and left it at that, I wouldn’t be lying. I would be selling it short. Todd Haynes broke apart one mans life into several people; the professional him, the personal him, and the fantasy him. In doing so we effectively get a better sense of what went on in each arena of Bob Dylan’s life and how exactly he changed. I’m Not There revolves around character change and how it can affect you for better or worst personally and professionally.
The first profound change in the movie happens to Woody, the little boy who train hops. Why he train hops no one can pin down really. Every time he tells the story it’s something new. What we do know is that Woody lives outside his time. He speaks of the Civil war as if he’s living through it. His songs are about times that have nothing to do with him and his experience either. It takes an older woman to point out his ignorance for him to be pushed into making a change. The older woman says to him very simple words “ Sing about your own time son. Sing about your own time.” This moment is quite obviously a moment of epiphany and the start of a change.
Although we don’t see the effects of that epiphany with little Woody, it affects the next story we are told. Jacks story. He sings about the deepest darkest parts of his war and segregation driven time period. Jacks songs where a soundtrack to an era. But as soon as he knew he was being used he rebelled. At an award ceremony, he told the world that he wasn’t going to be used for an agenda. Yet another turn for the story. If you consider all the characters being pieces of one person, then this is when a true change begins.
Jack stated what he wouldn’t be anymore but Jude made the actual change. He got on stage in front of a crowd of his most loyal political folk music fans, and played rock and roll. They said he sold out. A BBC interviewer even said that he was no longer capable of human emotions. The song Mr. Jones proved the BBC interviewer wrong. The music video like sequence during that song Mr. Jones put the BBC interviewer in the same position as Jude. Caged and labeled. The song proved that Jude did have feelings, but it was obvious by the crowd’s reaction that no one cared about him. It didn’t matter to Jude if even the black panthers where using his music to recruit people, it was his music like how he liked it and he didn’t have to explain to anyone. He made a change, if you didn’t like it then that was tough on you.
Making the connection that although they are different characters they represent one man, then it’s safe to say Robbie represented a personal life. His fame went straight to his head. He was womanizing and always away from his family. His view on the world just became jaded and because of it he lost everything he held dear.
I’m Not There steals bits and pieces of a three-act structure movie. None of the characters by the end of the movie have made a profound jump from where they were when they stared to when they ended. But by linking all the characters together, and understanding that what one character does motivates the other one, you can definitely see the movement that would be taken in three act structure piece.