I’m Not There as a Revisionist Biopic

Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There is a revisionist biopic documenting the life of singer/songwriter Bob Dylan. Dylan is played by six different characters, each representing a different aspect of his life and social development. The film details important developments in Dylan’s life, from his protest politics in the 1960’s to his conversion to and proselytism of evangelical Christianity.

By creating multiple personas for the main characters, both Citizen Kane and I’m Not There examine the idea that personality and identity are subjective and socially constructed. Each film focuses on the concept of the “unknowability” of the character being examined. The life of Kane is conveyed by word-of-mouth from several people, presenting several different perspectives of Charles Kane, whereas Dylan’s life is portrayed by different characters, each having different personas. Each film makes it difficult for the viewer to determine a single set of characteristics that define the subject being examined, therefore leaving his persona to be constantly reconstructed and redefined.

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