In late-1975, after almost a decade away from the touring circuit, Bob Dylan set out across America with a revolving line-up of musicians and guest singers as the Rolling Thunder Revue, to put on some of the most memorable and iconic shows of Dylan’s lengthy career.
Martin Scorsese pieces together the atmosphere and excitement of the tour through new interviews with Dylan himself, as well as major players such as Joan Baez, the late playwright/actor Sam Shepard, and actress Sharon Stone (back then a teenage wardrobe assistant), interspersed with painstakingly restored archive footage of the trek itself.
Dylan and Baez in particular are witty and self-effacing in their recollections, but the meat of this absorbing documentary is the backstage eavesdropping by the cameras and, especially, the electrifying concert sequences showing Dylan at the height of his performing powers.
As with Scorsese’s previous music-related projects (the earlier Dylan study No Direction Home, The Last Waltz and Shine a Light) the director’s passion and innate understanding of his subject grabs the viewer from the start and doesn’t let go until the end credits. The result is film truly deserving of the word “classic”.
Rolling Thunder Revue: a Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese launches on Netflix on Wednesday 12 June