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"People are always talking about freedom. Freedom to live a certain way, without being kicked around. Course the more you live a certain way, the less it feel like freedom. Me, uhm, I can change during the course of a day. I wake and I'm one person, when I go to sleep I know for certain I'm somebody else. I don't know who I am most of the time. "—Billy the Kid
I'm Not There is a 2007 biopic based on the life of Bob Dylan. Directed by Todd Haynes, the film uses 5 different actors (and one actress) to portray him; all playing Dylan at different roles in his life.
Woody Guthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin) is a black 11-year old boy travelling across America trying to find his place. He represents Dylan's Mysterious Past and lies. His name comes from Dylan's idol, Woody Guthrie.
Jack Rollins (Christian Bale) represents Dylan's folk era. Done in the style of a documentary, it documents the life of Rollins from a hindsight perspective. Jack later becomes Pastor John, showing Dylan's exploration into Christianity.
Robbie Clark (Heath Ledger) is a film star that plays Jack Rollins in the film Grain of Sand. However, this section focuses mainly on his relationship with Claire. He displays Dylan's attitude in relationships and his misogyny.
Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchett) is Dylan in his rock stage: abrasive, fragile, and drug-addicted. Haynes wanted the role to be played by a woman to capture Dylan's felineness in this period of his life.
Billy the Kid (Richard Gere) is an outlaw in the bush - the little town of Riddle. He represents Dylan in our times.
Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishlaw) seems to be in a court scene. Not really having a storyline of his own, he pops in and out throughout the film with small sections of script - mostly actual Dylan quotes. Named for the poet.
- Bishonen: Ben Whishaw as Arthur Rimbaud certainly qualifies, and if I'm not mistaken, Jude Quinn does too.
- Captain Ersatz / No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Dylans obviously, but other characters count, too, such as Alice Fabian (Joan Baez), Coco Rivington (Edie Sedgwick), and Sara (who is a Composite Character of Dylan's wives/girlfriends). Interestingly enough, the one celebrity who isn't disguised in some way is Allen Ginsberg, played by David Cross.
- Chekhov's Gun: Woody's guitar.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Jude Quinn, big time. Deconstructed, of course, as he is in fact a very erudite and intelligent person, but his drugs and alcohol abuse, and his mainly jerkass attitute, has left him as a really fried mad artist. This is true for the 60s Dylan, as he was constantly using drugs and going to clubs, and meeting people like Edie (Andy Warhol's diva), and Brian Jones from the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles.
- Crowning Music of Awesome: The soundtrack is full of terrific Bob Dylan covers by artists like Eddie Vedder, Sonic Youth, John Doe, Yo La Tengo, Willie Nelson, Tom Verlaine, and Calexico. The film contains most of these, along with original recordings by Dylan.
- Fake Nationality: Australians Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger, as well as Welshman Christian Bale all play American Dylans, and Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood plays British reporter Keenan Jones and American lawman Pat Garrett.
- Faux Documentary: The Jack Rollins story.
- Framing Device: Several, including Rimbaud's court scene, the funeral home, and the train.
- Insufferable Genius: Jude Quinn has shades of this.
- In the Style Of: The Jude Quinn segment is directed in the style of Fellini's 8 1/2
- Jerkass: Jude Quinn
- Mind Screw
- Misaimed Fandom: An in-universe example, as the Black Panthers use Quinn/Dylan's song Ballad of a Thin Man as a rallying cry for their cause. This is Truth in Television.
- Non-Singing Voice: Neither Cate Blanchett nor Christian Bale do their own singing. The former has her song dubbed by Stephen Malkmus and the Million Dollar Bashers, and the latter by John Doe and Mason Jennings (among others). Averted with Marcus Carl Franklin, who does his own singing and guitar.
- Recursive Reality: Jack Rollins is the "real life" version of Jude Quinn (as evidenced by his appearance in "her" yearbook). The story featuring Billy the Kid is implied to take place within the mind of Jude Quinn, too (Pat Garret is played by the same actor who plays the British reporter who harasses Jude/Jack).
- Sweet on Polly Oliver: Cate Blanchett. Period.
- Titled After the Song: A song that had never been released on a true album until this movie, previously existing only in bootleg form.
- Unreliable Narrator: Woody particularly, but practically the whole movie counts as one.
- Wild Mass Guessing: The movie portrays all interpretations of Dylan's music as this.
- WTH Casting: Dylan played by 6 different actors? And one is an African-American kid?? And the other is a woman???
- What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?