Renaldo and Clara

Last updated
Renaldo and Clara
Poster of the movie Renaldo and Clara.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bob Dylan
Produced byMel Howard
Written byBob Dylan
Sam Shepard
StarringBob Dylan
Sara Dylan
Joan Baez
Music byVarious artists
Cinematography Howard Alk
David Meyers
Paul Goldsmith
Edited byBob Dylan
Howard Alk
Distributed byCircuit Films
Release date
  • January 25, 1978 (1978-01-25)
Running time
232 minutes
CountryUnited States

Renaldo and Clara is a 1978 American film directed by Bob Dylan and starring Bob Dylan, Sara Dylan and Joan Baez. Written by Dylan and Sam Shepard, the film incorporates three distinct film genres: concert footage, documentary interviews, and dramatic fictional vignettes reflective of Dylan's song lyrics and life. [1]


Filmed in the fall of 1975 prior to and during Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue tour, the film features appearances and performances by Ronee Blakley, T-Bone Burnett, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Allen Ginsberg, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Hawkins, Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Mick Ronson, Arlen Roth, Sam Shepard, and Harry Dean Stanton. Renaldo and Clara was released in its original four-hour form on January 25, 1978 in the United States. Its limited release in theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, and other cities was discontinued after a few weeks following widespread negative reviews. [2]


Renaldo and Clara was written by Bob Dylan and Sam Shepard. Most of the performers are musicians or members of Dylan's inner circle; the only professional actors in the cast are Sam Shepard, Harry Dean Stanton, Helena Kallianiotes and Ronee Blakley.

The style, structure, and thematic elements of Renaldo and Clara were heavily influenced by the French film Les Enfants du Paradis . Similarities between the two films include the use of whiteface (Dylan), the recurring flower, the woman in white (Baez), the on-stage and backstage scenes, and the dialogue of both films' climactic scenes. Also evident is the Cubist approach of the two films, allowing us to see the main characters from the different perspectives of various lovers. Running time is also relatively similar.

Many of the artists performing with the Rolling Thunder Revue are featured in the film, which also includes clips of concert performances and footage of Rubin Carter, the subject of Dylan's song "Hurricane". The film also contains the last known footage of Phil Ochs, who is shown preparing to take the stage at Folk City in October 1975; he committed suicide six months later. The film also features an appearance from another late musician, David Blue, who gives some insight into the 1960s New York City folk music scene while playing an extended game of pinball. The machine was a Big Valley , built by Bally in 1970.


Upon its theatrical release in 1978, Renaldo and Clara received poor reviews, and, after opening in New York City and Los Angeles, its initial limited theatrical run was discontinued after a few weeks. The film was also shown in a film theatre in Hampstead, London, in a film theatre in Rialto, Dublin and in the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in May 1979. [3]

Later in 1978, Dylan allowed a two-hour edit of the film to be distributed. The shortened version focused more on the concert footage and omitted many of the dramatic scenes.

After a small number of showings of the original version on European television, Dylan withdrew the film from distribution. It was shown in two parts 7–8 July 1980 on German television ZDF; on Finnish television 28 August 1982; 26 December 1983 (Boxing Day) on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. The 4 hour version was also shown 29 May 2011 at the Glasgow Film Theatre. Copies, made from recordings of the television broadcast, circulate among collectors (the first 25 seconds of the tape-to-DVD had 'bad tracking'). The only parts of the movie to be released for consumers are the excerpts found on the bonus DVD accompanying the initial release of Dylan's The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue and in footage that was repurposed for the 2019 documentary Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese . Footage from the film also appeared in the music video of Dylan's 1991 song "Series of Dreams". To date, the film has yet to see an official release in any format. As of 2020, the film has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 50% based on six critic reviews, with an average rating of 4/10. [4]



See also

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  1. Maslin, Janet (January 26, 1978). "'Renaldo and Clara,' Film by Bob Dylan:Rolling Thunder". The New York Times . Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  2. Corbett, Ben. "Renaldo and Clara: Bob Dylan as Filmmaker". Archived from the original on April 5, 2012. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  4. "Renaldo and Clara (1978)". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  5. 1 2 "The Legend – The Dream Away Lodge". Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  6. Shepard, Sam (1977). Rolling Thunder Logbook. New York: The Viking Press. ISBN   9780306813719 . Retrieved April 7, 2012.

Further reading

Preceded by
New Award
Stinker Award for Worst Picture

(replaced If Ever I See You Again )
1978 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards

Succeeded by
Nightwing and The Main Event