Michael Curcio-I’m Not There
In his Bob Dylan epic, I’m Not There; Todd Haynes portrays the musician as a tragic American paradox through the various characters representing Dylan’s life.
First, Haynes starts the film by showing a young Dylan, Woody Guthrie, travel around rural Midwest America by train perfecting his chops as a folk singer. This grass roots upbringing shows Dylan’s down to earth persona when he was younger, desperately trying to carve a niche for himself as he traveled and experimented with various instruments and techniques. Dylan is shown as the childish Guthrie quite literally because he is portrayed by a young, country boy who gets taken in by a family and eventually has to flee because of his past.
Dylan’s cocky, drug addled, superstar persona is represented by Jude. Jude is a quick to judge, egotistical and rude musician that often speaks his mind even when he should keep his mouth shut. Dylan’s pure American innocence as Guthrie is shattered when Jude spews random slurred insults towards guests at a party. He went from being the underdog with a heart of gold when he was younger to a self-absorbed freak once he garnered some fame and respect for his talent. He managed to push those closest away from him because of his attitude and jaded perspective on life. This was Dylan’s darkest period.
Jack Rollin’s the preacher, shines in the movie as the rebirth of Dylan’s pure and music filled heart. He has abandoned the crudeness of Jude and tried to reach back to his purest time as Woody but realizing, as he’s older, he enlisted the help of the Lord to spread his message fully towards a larger congregation. He reaches his purest point of voice and instrument because Jack Rollins truly takes his time to perform and he is no longer playing for himself, he is playing for God. Bob Dylan’s eventually redemption, which is the quintessential part for any tragic American story, comes through the lord in the character of Jack Rollins.