Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan on Renaldo and Clara

“Allen Ginsberg:  What attracts you as a poet to movies? What do you look for?

Bob Dylan: To shift my consciousness somewhere – hopefully to a place that applies to my own personal experience. I want to be entertained. If I see a movie that really moves me around I’m totally astounded. I’m wiped out. If film was around when Da Vinci was operating, he’d have made film..”.

So begins an October 28 1977 transcript of a conversation between Allen and Bob Dylan, significantly, but not entirely, fixed on the legendary 1978 film project, Renaldo and Clara (“The movie that you never dreamt, that you wish you’da dreamt,” as he (Bob) cannily describes it).

We’re immensely grateful to Steve Silberman for unearthing this gem, this fourteen-page typescript, that seems never to have been republished or previously collected, and making it available on the web – here

Dylan goes into some significant detail regarding characters and the symbolism.

Here’s Allen and he at the end of the interview:

Allen Ginsberg: You chose to do it as improvisation…

Bob Dylan: How else? Life itself is improvised. We don’t live life as a scripted thing. Two boxers go into the ring and they improvise. You go make love with someone and you improvise. Go to sports car races, total improvisation. It’s obvious everyone was acting in that movie for dear life. Nobody was thinking of time. People were told this, this, this – the rest is up to you what you say in this scene is your business, but at the same time beyond that, the only directions you have are: you are going to die in a year, or see your mother for the first time in 20 years. So far as instructions to actors go, less is more. And I made it clear to the cameraman, Paul, that it wasn’t a documentary, and I told him not to shoot it like that.

Allen Ginsberg; Would you call it a visionary documentary?

Bob Dylan: No, “Documentary”  pretends towards objective reality, this pretends to Truth.

Allen Ginsberg: So how would you sum it all up?

Bob Dylan: Renaldo’s intense dream and his conflict with the present – that’s all the movie’s about. I’d like to make more movies after this. The next move Renaldo might be working in a factory, who knows? The next one will be more socially identifiable with. The next one will be different. It will be about Corruption, about Pride, about Vanity, and about Obsession. I’m giving a lot away here. I don’t want to give it away.

Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg in Renaldo and Clara

One comment

  1. If only Bob Dylan had had the cinematic expertise to make a film that reflects the vision that he describes here to Allen Ginsberg.

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