Orson Welles unfinished film to be released?
The Other Side of the Wind is a film from Orson Welles that was never finished nor released and has been caught up in a kind of custody battle ever since Welles died. Now word is coming that the ownership battles are almost resolved and that the film could actually see the light of day, finally after four decades.
The Other Side of the Wind is about the last hours of an aging film director, a film that could well be seen as a self portrait of sorts, and a film that has largely been unseen and unedited.
While the story in The Guardian admits that the idea of the disputes being resolved and the film seeing the light of day have been touted before, now they have a lawyer who is involved in the negotiations saying that they are close.
"We are in negotiations for the picture, which would lead to the finishing and public exhibition. Hopefully within the next few weeks we will know."
The lawyer, Kenneth Sidle, is hopeful of a resolution, but as actors do about potential roles, he could just be touting the idea to raise popular opinion.
The lawyer represents Jacqueline Boushehri, the widow of a relative of the Shah of Iran and a producer of the film, believe it or not. He says that another party involved in the ongoing dispute is Orson Welles former lover and co-writer of the film, Oja Kodar and she is willing to sell her rights too.
Apparently Welles is said to have told the director John Huston that the film was about them:
"It's about a bastard director… full of himself, who catches people and creates and destroys them. It's about us, John."
Now that's a cracking quote and reason enough to get the film out into the real world.
The article has a few interesting quotes about the film and from people who have had some involvement. Françoise Widhoff is a producer who worked with Welles and spent a month working on the film with him, she described it as a masterpiece and said it was very modern and free and said that it shouldn't be edited by anyone else and should just be released as is.
Andrés Vicente Gómez is a Spanish film-maker who also worked with Welles and says that allowing anyone else to complete the film would be an act of betrayal and described the film as his testament.
"The main character is a mix of [Ernest] Hemingway, Huston and himself… It was a film very close to him. But his physical condition was delicate. He didn't have the energy to cut it."
Danny Huston, John Huston's son and a fantastic actor in his own right, said that Welles had been given extensive editing notes to the actor and director Peter Bogdanovich who appeared in the film, and that could be a very strong indication of how they could get the film made. If there are notes from Welles about the editing of the film then perhaps there's a way for this unfinished footage to be finished close to his original vision.
I have to agree with those that are saying it shouldn't be completed, I mean how can anyone else edit footage that Orson Welles filmed and make it into something other than their own film? However the opposite side of that is watching unedited Welles footage is equally something that the director would not want to happen, that's why they edit films in the first place.
I think the question has to be asked, what would he rather see? His film sitting in a vault never witnessed, or someone else editing it and it finally released, in some decent form, for others to watch? I like to think that it would be the latter, after all no one seeing his film seems to be completely ignoring the purpose of film-making doesn't it?
If only those editing notes given to Peter Bogdanovich could be found, and then with the help of those who have studied Hitchcock and leading editors today, surely we could come a close approximation to his vision? Surely that would be better than not seeing the film at all?