I’m Not There is an examination of director Todd Haynes and his Bob Dylan biopic of the same name.
As the first and only Bob Dylan 'biopic' I’m Not There caused a stir when released in 2007. Offering a surreal retelling of moments from Dylan’s life and career, the film is perhaps best known for its distinctive approach to casting, including Cate Blanchett and Marcus Carl Franklin, a Black child actor, as versions of Dylan though none of the characters bear his name. Greenlit by Bob Dylan himself, the film uses Dylan’s music as a score, a triumph for famed queer filmmaker Todd Haynes after encountering issues with copyright in previous projects.
Noah Tsika characterises all the ways that Dylan and Haynes harmonize in their methods and sensibilities, interpreting the rule-breaking film as a biography that refuses chronology, disdains factual accuracy, flirts with libel, and cannibalizes Western cinema. Fitting the film’s inspiration, creation, and reception alongside its continuing afterlife, Tsika examines Dylan’s music in the film through the context of intellectual property, raising questions about who owns artistic material and artistic identities and how such material can be reused and repurposed. Tsika’s analysis touches on gender, race, queerness, celebrity, popular culture, and the law, while offering much to Haynes and Dylan fans alike.
University of Texas Press, 208pp, 12.7cm x 17.8 cm, paperback, illustrated, 2023
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