Bob Dylan, Murray Lerner, The Other Side Of The Mirror

Written by Joe D on November 2nd, 2007


I went to the American Cinematheque to see Murray Lerner’s filmThe Other Side Of The Mirror. It’s a film about Bob Dylan. It was shot at The Newport Folk Festival in 1963, 1964,& 1965 and it shows how Dylan changed over that time period.

He starts off as a young folksinger. Singing songs about oppression , social iniquity, racism and other divisive techniques used by politicians. Anti-War songs, beautiful stuff. He does one of my favorite early Dylan songs, The Chimes Of Freedom Flashing.

If you’re a Dylan fan I recommend this film. But gradually Bob changes, he becomes more of a Media figure, more of an icon. His music becomes more abstract, more personal, more about himself in a way and less about oppressed people.

Finally in 1965 he performs with an electric band, Mike Bloomfield on guitar, Al Kooper on Organ, Sam Lay on Drums. The crowd boos him!

They were upset that he was playing amplified music, they wanted Mr. Tambourine Man. But I have to say watching the film this time, I agreed with them! Seeing that young Bob Dylan, so pure, so talented, just him, his guitar, his voice, his lyrics, entertaining thousands of people, singing about inequality, about people being the pawns of government, about life in a mining town, was so moving and inspiring. Especially today when such voices are not allowed to be heard.

Then seeing him with his rock band, Bleah! Commercialism, Sell Out! It just wasn’t as good! In 1963 he looked like an androgynous Pixie. his hair piled on top of his head, his skinny face, he was like Snap, Crackle, & Pop, a magical figure, not of this earth. Then suddenly he’s Lou Reed’s cousin, playing with junkie geniuses, down in the mud of existence. No wonder they booed. Lerner interviews some very young fans and they said ” Who needs Dylan anymore. He’s here, part of the establishment” He rode the folk scene until he was big enough to become an icon, a God not a human. He went to the other side of the mirror.

Joan Baez sings with you know who

A very young Johnny Cash appears in this film and comments on what a great songwriter Dylan is, and performs a song. Very Cool!

Murray Lerner makes a profound statement about the nature of fame, Art, Perception, and human frailty.

And he makes it in a deceptively simple way. That’s what makes it so powerful. It took Murray 44 years to get this film released. Bravo for not giving up.


Keith Robinson & Murray Lerner, two veterans of 630 9th Avenue, The Film Center Building

Like I said if you’re a Dylan fan, check it out. If you don’t know anything about Dylan it’s still worth seeing, you may learn something about the culture of those days and about the incredible music Mr. Dylan was making then.