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Decades in the making: Orson Welles’s last film finally sees light of day

Welles shot The Other Side Of The Wind between 1970 and 1977, and worked on it till his death in 1985.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2018 09:35 IST
orson welles,director,the other side of the wind
Orson Welles (1915 - 1985), the American director, actor, producer and writer. (Getty Images)

In 1970, legendary director Orson Welles began filming his final project. Beset by financial and legal difficulties, the movie in its entirety would never see light of day while he was alive and ended up in a Paris warehouse.

Almost 50 years on, the film is finally set to be released.

Welles shot The Other Side Of The Wind between 1970 and 1977, and worked on it till his death in 1985. The Washington Post said it features a daring mash-up of cinematic styles, provocative sexual content, and a story line pulled from Welles’s own career and life. Two other filmmakers — Peter Bogdanovich and Dennis Hopper — appear as actors.

Despite shooting to fame with his debut film Citizen Kane in 1941, Welles was never really able to reproduce its artistic success, despite repeated attempts. The Other Side Of The Wind was to be the crown jewel of his filmmaking career.

However, the project faced countless financial difficulties. According to Deadline, first, a Spanish financial backer disappeared, leading to the family of the Shah of Iran stepping in, but the 1976 Iranian Revolution put paid to that source of funding.

The production of the film was also steeped in confusion — Deadline reported that Welles didn’t even cast his lead actor, John Huston, until three years into production.

After Welles’ death, the footage became the subject to a legal battle between his daughter Beatrice, a European production company, and Croatian actress Oja Kodar, who was Welles’ partner and had co-written the film’s script. The unreleased footage eventually ended up in a Paris warehouse.

In March 2017, online streaming giant Netflix stepped in, buying the rights to the film with an eye to finishing the project and sparking excitement across the movie world.

On Friday, The Other Side Of The Wind will premier at the Venice Film Festival, 48 years after production on it first started. Accompanying it will be a documentary about Welles’ life, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead.

The film will then be shown at the New York Film Festival before being made available for streaming on Netflix on November 2.

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 09:35 IST