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Ghost Canyon

'I'm Not There - Special Edition'
(Christian Bale, David Cross, et al / 2-Disc DVD / R / (2007) 2008 / Weinstein Company)

Overview: Inspired by the life and songs of Bob Dylan, I'm Not There is "a profoundly personal and passionate film" (A.O. Scott, The New York Times) that captures the essence of this elusive genius. Six different actors - including Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Richard Gere and Oscar® nominee Cate Blanchett in a "soon-to-be-legendary performance" (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) - each embody part of the Dylan legend.

DVD Verdict: Director Todd Haynes has reinvented the musician biopic by manipulating its conventions to suit its subject instead of the other way around which is what has always been done in the past. I'm Not There invites us into Bob Dylan's brain and has look at the world through his eyes. We also see how Dylan is perceived by the media and his fans. Because Haynes is pushing the genre to its extremes the film is quite hard to follow at times as we jump all over the place in time and are confronted by various takes on Dylan. However, I think it is a film that will only improves on subsequent viewings as what Haynes is doing becomes more apparent and understood.

On the first disc there is "An Introduction" featuring four text essays that help one get a handle on the film. "Who's Not There: Six Faces of Dylan" explains who each of the six Dylans the actors are playing and what they represent. "Tangled Up in Clues" claims that Haynes' film is "an homage to 1960s art films." It does an excellent job of breaking the film down to its basic elements. "Decoding an Entertaining Enigma" examines each incarnation of Dylan in the film. "Notes on I'm Not There" is written by noted critic Greil Marcus and features a solid analysis of the film.

There is an audio commentary by co-writer/director Todd Haynes. He talks about how he rediscovered Bob Dylan's music and his life via biographies. Haynes talks about how he pitched the project to Dylan and how he was inspired by the cinema of the 1960s because that was the time period where most of the film was set. Haynes certainly knows his Dylan history and does a great job analyzing his film and talking about the changes he made while shooting it. This is an engaging and informative track.

There is also an option to have the lyrics to the songs that appear on-screen. The second disc features two theatrical trailers and an unreleased flash card trailer done in the style of the famous "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video with the cast.

There are "Audition Tapes" for Marcus Carl Franklin and Ben Whishaw. They both do a good job embodying the character they would eventually play. Also included are two deleted scenes with Blanchett as Dylan messed up on drugs and another with Gere as Dylan during his western phase. There are four alternate/extended scenes that provide an interesting, different take on these scenes.

An "Outtakes" gag reel features the cast and crew goofing around. "A Tribute to Heath Ledger" features a montage of clips of the late actor in character and on the set. It is a sobering reminder of what a great talent has been lost with his tragic death. "The Red Carpet Premiere" in November 2007 features footage of Haynes and his cast walking the red carpet and interacting with the press.

"Making the Soundtrack" examines how they mixed covers of Dylan's songs with original versions by the man himself. Haynes enlisted Sonic Youth's Lee Ronaldo to supervise some of the music and musicians like John Doe recorded their versions of key songs in the film. Assembling the soundtrack was as unconventional as the film itself.

"Conversation with Todd Haynes" features the director going in detail about his film explaining the title, the origins of the project, and so on. It's a nice compliment to his commentary track even if there is some overlap. "Dylanography" includes the one-page proposal Haynes sent Dylan in order to get his approval for the film. There is also a chronology of the musician's life, a discography of his extensive output, books he's written, pages from the director's notebook, and stills of the various characters. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the aforementioned Special Feature of:

9 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
Audio Commentary with Director Todd Haynes
Premiere Featurette
Making Of 'I’m Not There'
Subterranean Homesick Blues Music Video
Audition Tapes – Ben Whishaw and Marcus Carl Franklin
Gag Reel
Conversation with Todd Haynes
Making of the Soundrack
Dylan Filmography
Dylan Discography
New York Times Article on the Film Written by Robert Sullivan
On Screen Lyric Stream