On a Sunday afternoon in 1965, music lovers enjoying the Newport Folk Festival awaited a solo performance from Bob Dylan, not knowing his overnight change would lead to controversy. Instead of one man with an acoustic guitar and harmonica, Dylan came out with a band and an electric guitar that elicited a mix of boos and cheers and led the musician to a 37-year hiatus from the popular folk festival.
It seems absurd now, but Dylan’s appeal was in his simplicity. The idea of shifting from acoustic to electric gave fans the perception that Dylan was no longer one with the common man as his politically inclined songs previously implied. In the history of musical evolution, Dylan’s short set in ’65 is still worth revisiting.
And to help revisit that moment in history, director James Mangold has enlisted Timothée Chalamet as the actor to portray the young Dylan and his maundering vocals in a new film aptly titled Going Electric. Mangold, who most recently directed Ford v Ferrari, is slated to re-tell the moment leading up to the iconic songwriter’s decision to make the leap without warning. Chalamet has already proven his acting chops in his young career, and is currently the same age Dylan was when he fired up his Strat in front of an audience for the first time.
Mangold has a sense for telling a story around a musician. He co-wrote and directed 2005’s Walk the Line which tapped into the tumultous life and career of Johnny Cash, another musician who challenged the ordinary with ill-regard for record sales. Given Mangold’s acclaimed abilities and Chalamet’s talent and dedication (rumors are he’s already learning the guitar to help with his role), a key moment of Dylan’s long-lasting and neverending career should parlay into an insightful film for music lovers everywhere.