The opening scene is a clip in warm colours of Bob Dylan live in concert. More specific, it´s Dylan performing his revolutionary 1965 song ´Like A Rolling Stone´, which completely transformed his image from a poetic folk singer to an absolute rock star. We´re cut straight to the line,
No Direction Home which is the title of the documentary. Already here the audience know what to expect; The story of Dylan´s road to being one of the most influential musicians of our time- and the path which lead him there.
The music finishes without warning. The next clip is a quiet winter scene. The transitions of the B/W still images of hazy fogged trees.switch from CU-MCU-WS. It´s a hard-cut contrast to the opening scene. After the second transition, Dylan´s voice narrates. He goes on about ´how you can do a lot of things that seem to make time stand still, but of course, no one can do that´. The whole vibe from the scene is cold and silent, compared to the first clip. After Dylan´s philosophical thoughts `Drifting Too Far From The Shore´by The Monroe Brothers starts playing while a B/W still image of a house takes over the next frame. The viewers soon understand it´s Dylan’s childhood home. The Text “Many Years Earlier” appears on the screen. What we get from this is an understanding that part of the documentary revolves around Dylan’s childhood. And what lead him to pursue a career in music which again leads him to become the influential voice he is, even today.
As photos of a young Dylan and B/Ws from his childhood pops up on the screen, Scorsese’s use of images illustrates the key points of Dylan´s interview. There´s a nostalgic vibe to it when Dylan talks about his childhood and his hometown.
He speaks of what led up to his pursuit of music. When he first started playing the guitar, the first time he listens to music on his dad’s big mahogany radio with a 78” turntable. He opened it up one day and there was a country record in. It was `Drifting Too Far From The Shore´, which is also playing in the background while he speaks. At the end of this part, a selection of photos fills the screen. Dylan as a young boy, a video of a turntable and then footage from Dylan´s interview. In the interview footage of Dylan, he says the sound of the record made him feel like he was somebody else, that he was maybe not even born to the right parents. To the viewer, It’s obvious that this moment in his life was one of huge influence.
It cuts to a B/W clip of a street with a banner which reads “See the Iron Mines 1 Mile North”. Footage from the mine is also shown. Music is playing in the background while Dylan talks about his hometown. “What happens to a town after it´s livelihood is gone…it decays and blows away”. B/W clearly represents the past.
Colour clip of Dylan in an interview setting reminiscing back to the life on the farm, the mine, the harsh weather and the pit, where everybody worked. It was so cold you couldn´t be a rebel, you couldn´t be bad, he says. There were no philosophy, idiom or ideology to go against. – Which again leads up to the documentary showing that is what he eventually did.
Photos of his father’s electrical store and the town are shown when Dylan talks about his first job sweeping up the store and how that was supposed to teach him the discipline of hard work and the merits of employment.
This almost 3-minute long edit by Schoonmaker is a good indication of what we can expect from this documentary and what Scorcese is trying to tell; How Dylan came to be one the most influential musicians and poets of our time. He wasn’t born into the music scene. He rebelled against his upbringings and against taking over the family business so he could follow his own life-philosophy and change the world. The rest of the documentary will show this by using both stills and videos of a young Dylan cut in an efficient way going back and forth from the past till now. The edit switches from colour to B/W image to effectively tell a story separating the now from the past. The use of music gives a nostalgic feel. Also the use of old photographs. Schoonmaker and Scorsese will continue to use this method throughout the rest of the documentary. It’s a very effective way to show the story in a sequent.