Throughout his trailblazing career, Bob Dylan has cited artists from different realms as sources of inspiration but his love for cinema has always been more prominent. His songwriting as well as his artistic sensibilities have been influenced by some of the cinematic greats such as John Ford and Charlie Chaplin.
Dylan was deeply moved by the American classics he grew up watching but he was also fascinated by the experimental cinematic art that came out of Europe. Influenced by the French New Wave and American experimental auteurs like Andy Warhol, Dylan even made a 235-minute long epic called Renaldo and Clara which is now viewed as a cult work.
In one interview, Dylan spoke about his reaction to Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal 1960 gem Breathless: “I figured Godard had the accessibility to make what he made, he broke new ground. I never saw any film like Breathless, but once you saw it, you said: ‘Yeah, man, why didn’t I do that, I could have done that.’ Okay, he did it, but he couldn’t have done it in America.”
Alongside the French masterpieces that dominated the discourse at the time, the music icon was also mesmerised by the cinematic creations of Italian maestro Federico Fellini. Talking about his films, Dylan said: “It looked like life in a carnival mirror except it didn’t show any monster freaks – just real people in a freaky way. I watched it intently, thinking that I might not see it again.”
On multiple occasions, Dylan has been asked about how cinema has influenced his work. However, one interviewer asked Dylan to name some of the films he wanted to act in. The legendary musician has a number of acting credits under his belt but these are the iconic films he would have liked to work on.
Check out the full list below.
The films Bob Dylan wishes he starred in:
- The Devil and Miss Jones (Sam Wood, 1941)
- I Was a Zombie for the FBI (Marius Penczner, 1982)
- Ben Hur (William Wyler, 1959)
- Raintree Country (Edward Dmytryk, 1957)
This list is certainly an eclectic one, with Dylan claiming that he wanted to star in Sam Wood’s 1941 comedy The Devil and Miss Jones. The film revolves around a business owner who pretends to be a salesman at his own store in order to find out the organisers of a labour union.
Curiously, Dylan also listed a true cult film titled I Was a Zombie for the F.B.I which is largely forgotten now. A sci-fi comedy, it chronicled the journey of two criminal brothers who uncover a vast alien conspiracy to takeover the planet by turning people into zombies.