“Even the ghost was more than one person”: Authorship and Authorisation in I’m Not There

Marcus O'Dair


“This is not a Bob Dylan movie” ran the headline of Robert Sullivan’s New York Times feature about I’m Not There, the 2007 Dylan biopic directed by Todd Haynes. In one sense, this is quite true: Dylan is depicted by six actors, between them portraying seven characters, yet none of these characters is named Bob Dylan. I argue, however, that I’m Not There is very much a Bob Dylan movie; contrary to the title, Bob Dylan is there. I frame my argument with reference to the notion of heteroglossia (Bakhtin 1981), as well as theories of authorship (Foucault 1984, Barthes 1977) and the authorisation of biography (Renders 2017). Although it focuses on a single film, my article feeds into broader discussions of identity construction in popular music biopics and the relationship between popular music biopics and other biographical texts.


authorisation; authorship; biopic; Todd Haynes; heteroglossia; Bob Dylan

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