Dont Look Back is a 1967 documentary film by D.A. Pennebaker that principally covers Bob Dylan's 1965 concert tour of the United Kingdom.
In 1998, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The film features Joan Baez, Donovan and Alan Price (who had just left The Animals), Dylan's manager Albert Grossman and his road manager Bob Neuwirth; Marianne Faithfull, John Mayall and Ginger Baker may also be glimpsed in the background. The film shows a young Dylan: confident if not arrogant, confrontational and contrary, but also charismatic and charming. Notable scenes include:
Dylan's romance with Baez had pretty much run its course by the time of the tour, and the film candidly captures what essentially amounts to their breakup.
The opening scene of the film also served as a kind of music video for Dylan's song "Subterranean Homesick Blues", in which the singer displays and discards a series of cue cards bearing selected words and phrases from the lyrics (including intentional misspellings and puns). Allen Ginsberg makes a cameo appearance during this episode.
Release and re-releases
The film was first shown publicly May 17, 1967, at the Presidio Theater in San Francisco, and opened that September at the 34th Street East Theater in New York.
Dont Look Back has been available on DVD for several years. It was digitally-remastered and re-released on DVD February 27, 2007. The two-disc edition contained the remastered film, five additional audio tracks, commentary by filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker and Tour Road Manager Bob Neuwirth, an alternate version on the video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues", the original companion book edited by D.A. Pennebaker to coincide with the film's release in 1968, a flip-book for a section of the "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video, and a brand new documentary by D.A. Pennebaker and edited by Walker Lamond called 65 Revisited. The DVD packaging was also given new artwork.
A transcript of the film, with photographs, was published in 1968 by Ballantine Books.
Influences on popular culture
- The band Belle & Sebastian reference the movie in their 1996 album If You're Feeling Sinister during the song "Like Dylan in the Movies" (refrain: "And if they follow you/don't look back/like Dylan in the movies").
- Jill Sobule references the movie in her 2000 album Pink Pearl during the song "Heroes" (lyric: "Dylan was so mean to Donovan in that movie").
- INXS pay tribute to the opening sequence in their video for "Mediate" from their 1987 album, Kick.
"Give the anarchist a cigarette"
"Give the anarchist a cigarette" is uttered by Dylan upon learning that he had been pejoratively labeled as an anarchist
by various newspapers in 1965. The event is captured in the final scene of the documentary.
The phrase has since passed into popular culture in several instances.
- A bootleg album of live Bob Dylan songs has been called "Give the Anarchist a Cigarette".
- A film has also been given the title Give the Anarchist a Cigarette.
- The phrase has since been used by the anarcho-punk band Chumbawamba for the title of a song on their album Anarchy. The song is about Bob Dylan and includes the lyrics, "Give the anarchist a cigarette/ 'Cause that's as close as he's ever going to get/ Bobby just hasn't earned it yet".
- It is also the title of the autobiography by Mick Farren, a musician and anarchist.
Dave Saunders, 2007: Direct Cinema: Observational Documentary and the Politics of the Sixties
, London, Wallflower Press. This book contains a lengthy chapter on Don't Look Back
and its cultural context and significance.