I m Not There

  • Directors: Todd Haynes
  • Producers: Christine Vachon, Jeff Rosen
  • Writers: Todd Haynes, Oren Moverman
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, Music
  • Actors: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Ben Whishaw, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Julianne Moore, Peter Friedman

The film opens with Jude Quinn, played by Cate Blanchett (representing Dylan circa 1966)[3] walking on stage to perform at a concert, before cutting to him riding on a motorcycle and then crashing. The film then cuts to Quinn’s body on a mortuary slab and an autopsy begins. (This opening sequence refers to Bob Dylan’s motorcycle accident in July 1966).[4][5]

Woody Guthrie, an 11-year old African American boy played by Marcus Carl Franklin is seen carrying a guitar in a case labelled “This Machine Kills Fascists” as he travels the country, pursuing his dream of becoming a singer. (Folk singer Woody Guthrie had an identical label on his guitar.)[6] Woody befriends the African-American Arvin family, who give him food and hospitality and Woody in turn performs Bob Dylan’s 1965 song “Tombstone Blues”, accompanied by Richie Havens (as Old Man Arvin). At dinner, Mrs. Arvin advises Woody: “Live your own time, child, sing about your own time”.

Later that night, Woody leaves the Arvins’ home, leaving behind a note thanking them, and catches a ride on a train, where a group of thieves attempt to rob him. He jumps from the speeding train and dives into a river, where a white couple rescues him and takes him to a hospital before bringing him home. They receive a phone call from a juvenile correction center in Minnesota from which Woody had escaped. The phone call prompts Woody’s swift departure, and he takes a Greyhound bus to Greystone Park Hospital in New Jersey, where he visits the (real) Woody Guthrie. Woody leaves flowers at Guthrie’s bedside and plays his guitar. (Over the hospital sequence, Bob Dylan performs his song “Blind Willie McTell”).

The film ends with close-up footage of the real Bob Dylan playing his harmonica, a shot filmed by D. A. Pennebaker during Dylan’s 1966 World Tour.

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