By filming the Newport Folk Festival from 1963 through 1965, director Murray Lerner was able to record and preserve Bob Dylan's astonishing growth from a protest singer (1963) to an acoustic-based poetic songwriter (1964) to a full-fledged Rock & Roll star (1965, when he donned a leather jacket and, backed by members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, went electric before a startled audience).
But the 1967 documentary that Lerner made from his footage, Festival, so excessively cross-edited between snippets of Dylan's (and everyone else's) performances that it never let the music make its full chronological impact. Finally, he has corrected that with this 83-minute alternate film featuring much unreleased material. While one can hear the audience boos during the historic 1965 electric versions of "Maggie's Farm" and "Like a Rolling Stone," the music sounds superb, especially Mike Bloomfield's guitar. Dylan's 1964 performances of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Chimes of Freedom" are mesmerizing -- he awed his worshipful audience and seemed touched by the response. And in 1963, his "Only a Pawn in Their Game" and "Blowin' in the Wind" inspired the civil-rights-committed audience, including fellow performers. (Steven Rosen) Grade: A-
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