The Sound of Music #1: I’m Not There

Welcome to The Sound of Music! This is a new series that I’m starting that focuses on my favorite uses of music in film. I love music, and nothing gets me more into a film than  a director using music to enhance the impact of a scene or making a scene that suits its music perfectly. Here’s the first edition of the series:

I’m not there is a film that creates it’s best scenes through the way it utilizes the songs of Bob Dylan, and there is no better example of that then the scene that revolves around “Ballad of a Thin Man”. The origin of the song was that Bob Dylan hated the press and wrote this song about the interviewers who frustrated him so much. At the point in the film where this song is used Cate Blanchett’s character, Jude, is being interviewed by Keenan Jones. The conversation they have accurately portrays word-for-word an interview that Dylan actually had with a reporter from Time magazine. It really highlights the mystery of Dylan as a man and as an artist. The conversation between Jude and Keenan gets to the point where Jude leaves the car out of anger, yells at Keenan, and leaves. It is then that my favorite scene in the movie begins.

What follows is quite possibly my favorite use of music in film. Ever. At some point I plan on analyzing this scene, shot-for-shot and attempt to unveil the meanings of every surreal aspect of this sequence, and that will take a very long amount of time. This is because director Todd Haynes created every shot with a purpose. Not only does the plot relate to the lyrics but also what is happening on screen relates to the lyrics. It’s like a music video interrupts the film but still manages to continue the plot. It may not work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me.

Allow me to present this flawless scene featuring Ballad of a Thin Man performed by Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers: