The Other Side Of The Mirror captures not only the entire 1965 Newport performance on DVD, but those of 1963 and 1964 as well. This is truly fascinating stuff that tells an equally riveting story. By simply showing the three Dylan Newport performances in their chronological order, filmmaker Murray Lerner (whose credits also include films on subjects ranging from Issac Stern to Jimi Hendrix) spins the sort of tale even a Hollywood script writer couldn't have come up with.
The Newport story has of course already been the subject of endless analysis and re-examination. It has basically been dissected to death by all manner of critics and music historians. But by simply presenting these performances exactly as they unfolded, we are finally able to get a first hand look at how Dylan went from near messiah status within the folk community to their own personal Judas. Nothing is offered up here in the way of an opinion — the events are simply shown as they happened, and the viewer is left to draw their own conclusions.
Dylan first arrives at the 1963 festival as folk music's newly appointed heir to pass the message of love, peace, and political activism on to a newer, younger generation. During an afternoon workshop performance, he sings parts of "All I Really Want To Do" in the sort of youthful, high yodel that is hard to imagine now. Its equally strange to watch an almost naive young Dylan seated on a gazebo style stage (that really looks more like a porch), with people like Clarence Ashley seated behind him holding banjos and such. You almost start to wonder when Grandma will be serving up the lemonade.
What is clear is that everybody loves this guy, and Dylan himself is clearly elated by the acceptance, joking and grinning throughout the performances. Joan Baez even gets into the comedy act by doing a spot-on impersonation of "Bobby Dylan doing Joan Baez" on the song "Mary Hamilton."
At one point when folk icon Pete Seeger introduces Dylan, he is beaming almost like a proud father. He would later notoriously attempt to unplug Dylan during the spectacle just two years later when he went electric.
But the love affair first must continue, which it does at Dylan's 1964 Newport performance. Dylan grins from ear to ear here throughout a particularly intense and riveting performance of the song "Chimes Of Freedom." The crowd is so enraptured that when the song ends and Peter Yarrow is faced with the daunting task of introducing the next act, he is all but drowned out by a crowd screaming for Dylan to come back out — which he finally does in an effort to quiet them down.