DVDylan ID: D519
Recording type: ProShot

This short film is amazing.

Everyone reading this review has at least a passing interest in Bob Dylan and his music. Now, though Desolation Row need not be your favorite (it isn't mine) among the Dylan canon, it is one of those generally highly regarded songs which helped give Bob his iconic status as a seer and a songwriter; thus everyone with even a passing interest in Dylan's music should care at least a bit about this song. Then, if one is going to listen to the song, one should perforce pay attention to the imagery. Finally, viewing this film will bring out some of the imagery in ways which will amaze, amuse, and astound. Thus, everyone reading this review should view this short film.

As a minor quibble, the version of the song used for the soundtrack (Cedar Rapids, 3 April 2000, as I understand), is a decidedly pedestrian version, workmanlike but uninspired. There are many live performances of Desolation Row which far surpass this one. That is a quibble, though, and does not interfere with the enjoyment.

D519 will never make my regular rotation. It remains, however, a must-see. Good headphones, a darkened room, the adult beverage of your choice, and Roderick Smith's film will give you an excellent ten minutes; if it is your first time viewing this film, and even if it is not, I daresay you may enjoy it several times more. (Readers, most probably those of a certain age, who are calling to mind other ten-minute experiences in darkened rooms after enjoying an adult beverage, should keep their minds out of the gutter and focused on the review at hand.)

The artwork is amazing, the puppetry whimsical and fun. The joining of Desolation Row to both makes for an indispensible viewing. Five stars in a walk.

Reviewed by pswets on 13th April 2009

I first got this DVD out of pure curiousity and had spent a long time beforehand wondering how on earth a one song disc performed by a puppet and set to some of the strangest images in creation could possibly merit a five star rating. True enough to say that Desolation Row is high on the the list of all Dylan and a lot of non-Dylan fans, but to have it played by a mop-haired puppet whilst viewing drawings from the 16th century was surely going to be a step short of insanity.

So, with a hugely sceptical outlook I popped it into the DVD player and sat back to witness a rat scurrying across a mock-up stage and thought to myself "There must be some way outa here".

I was totally un-prepared for what was happening in front of my eyes for the next ten minutes and if a meteor had come through my roof during those ten minutes, I honestly don't think I would have noticed it. I was completely entranced by what I was witnessing and was breathless with wonderment at the end of it.

The rat scurried off again and for the first time in my life I applauded my television set in a standing position.

There isn't a need for me to describe the music and images of this disc and how magically and mystically they work together. To do so would take away from the sense of wonder a first time viewer of it may be anticipating as s/he plays it for the first time.

If you don't have this disc, do whatever you can to get it.

Reviewed by Townes on 13th April 2009

Dylan ( a marionette crafted by roderick smith) discovers desolation row as he combs over Brueghel's cryptic etchings in this film noir-esq short. A montage of Breughel's chilling etchings is well balanced by smith's puppetry. This film is amusing and well worth showing fellow Dylan fans.

Reviewed by DoctorHowe on 15th September 2006

From the description, even the reviewers couldn't really persuade me that I'd agree that this video rated 5 stars. But oh, was I wrong.

It's creepy, but exceptionally creative. It's macabre, but positively mesmerizing. It's a bit perverse, but also a bit profound. And, with all that, it's high comedy, and great fun, if also somewhat disquieting. Add this to your collection. You'll be showing it to all your Dylan-loving friends, and most likely some of your other friends, too.

Reviewed by davidigor on 17th July 2006

This disc is very interesting! The concept of the link between "Desolation Row" and Bruegel's art is well-developed and clear to any who view it. This is worth acquiring and represents an intriguing addition to the unofficial Dylan DVD canon.


Reviewed by Joe1235 on 24th December 2005

Some folks may be familiar with a book by Getty Trust publications entitled "Superhuman Crew" an illustrated copy of Desolation Row by painter James Ensor. Where that book tries, this film achieves. When I first saw this DVD I was taken aback. The classic Dylan song, the unexpected visuals, the magical marionette are layered against the renderings of artist Peter Bruegel the Elder and the effect is impossible to fully describe. It's a mesmerizing must see film. Bruegel's ancient images provoke the lyrics of the live Bob Dylan performance. You feel like you are peering into the creative act itself. It gets five stars and a thanks to artist(s) that put this together.

Reviewed by DavidTrace on 23rd December 2005

I must endorse what others have already said. This is a brilliant work of art. Enhancing the original performance, here we are led into another world of imagery, another world which provokes our mind to further adventures ....
Given the number of 'credits' in Dylan's lyrics, it is strange that he has never mentioned Breughel or Bosch.

Reviewed by Llareggub on 07th December 2005

This vid kicks ass. Peak into the murky chasms of this surreal animate where Bob Dylan discovers they're selling post cards of the hanging. Be prepared to be spooked. And also laugh your gord out.

Reviewed by Noel on 19th October 2005

A creative miracle indeed. An amazing feat of puppetry and rostrum camerawork allied to the best ever version of "Desolation Row". Once you've seen it, the imagery will stay with you, and I'm sure that, like me, you'll keep coming back to re-view it...

Reviewed by Freewheelin on 06th April 2005

This was a great little video before it was authored.

It is now "cool."

Kudos and thanks to the author!

Reviewed by yassou on 15th March 2005

I'm with Mary on this one - 10 stars if they were available. I still have the old QuickTime version of this and have probably watched it 30 times in the last few years. Everytime you watch it you see something else in it that you missed before.

I love the way the marionette dances, too. He's got that knee wiggle thing that Dylan does down pat.

Truly amazing, and one of the prizes of my collection.

Reviewed by handlevandal on 11th March 2005

I'd rate this film as 10 if there were 10 stars here, one star for each minute of performance.

This Rocking Lantern Production of Desolation Row may not be the corporal Bob on video but it one essence of Bob and his wonderful song from 40 years ago- with visual imagery from 500 years ago to compliment the verbal imagery . When I received the quicktime file of this film last year - I put it to VCD and watched it about 50 times over a week's time, the performance of the marionette is truly captivating. The artwork of Peter Bruegel The Elder was unknown to me at the time, is still unknown except for this video.

The performance of the puppet/marionette is... mesmerizing - that doesn't read so well but I recommend this DVD highly, a MUST HAVE on my list. I look forward to the next Rocking Lantern Production starring Bob and ???

Reviewed by mary on 08th March 2005