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Film Provides Kaleidoscopic Portrait of Bob Dylan

In the new film, I'm Not There, director Todd Haynes deploys six actors to portray the many lives of one man: Bob Dylan.

There is Dylan the prophet, the enigma, the innovator, the restless lover, the preacher and the outlaw. The actors are young and old, white and black, male and female.

Much of the script is taken straight from old Dylan interviews.

Haynes talks to Melissa Block about what it took to get the legendary — and legendarily ornery — singer-songwriter to grant music rights for the film.

A nagging voice told Haynes that if Dylan would ever give his permission, it would probably need to be something like I'm Not There: "something unorthodox, something that opens up his life and work, and something that has a sense of play in it."

"His life has been a series of escapes, from being too worshipped, too revered, too frozen onto the pedestal," Haynes says.

The director discusses why he chose the actors he did for his six Dylans, including Cate Blanchett as the "electric" Dylan who alienated so many fans and Marcus Carl Franklin, an African-American actor who plays a younger Dylan.

Haynes also explains that he wanted his movie to visually reference the cinema and history of Dylan's universe in the 1960s.

"I wanted it to feel like you're inside the tissue of this time, this amazingly dense, combustive but joyous time," Haynes says.

"There was such an openness to exploding conventional song, films, conventional forms and ways of thinking. And I don't know if Dylan would have existed without coming out of that time."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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