At first, he's a young, train-hopping wanderer who has taken the name Woody (Marcus Carl Franklin), from his hero Woody Guthrie. He also plays a guitar with "This Machine Kills Fascism" painted on it. Later, the man appears as an aged Billy the Kid (Richard Gere) who can't understand why the locals are being bullied out of their land by a decrepit Pat Garrett (Bruce Greenwood). Fitfully, the sequences are shot in the dusty browns of Peckinpah and the hippie westerns of the late 1960s and 1970s. Both stories, along with the others, are consistently interrupted by a press conference with poet Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw), who speaks in a particularly American sarcasm while scrutinizing everyone who questions him, half-mumbling with cigarette in hand.
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The result of this combination is an overly ambitious film that's as muddled and cryptic as a mumble-filled Dylan vocal. Dylan stars as the symbolically named Jack Fate, an apparent musical legend, jailed in the midst of a brutally downtrodden America where the government has taken over, war is rampant, and even the counter-revolutionaries have counter-revolutionaries.
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American Thighs was released on this day in 1994.