Directed by Morgan Neville
The behind the scenes story of The Other Side of the Wind, the final Orson Welles film, and all the struggles that went into its production and release.
Great Companion Piece;
A Method To Its Madness;
Just Like Its Subject.
I’m on the fence over how I feel about having watched this after The Other Side of the Wind. On one hand, it would have helped me appreciate the former on a much deeper level and possibly helped me gloss over what felt like flaws. But on the other, all this new knowledge and perspective gives me every reason for a revisit and will help me keep a keener eye on the editing when I do go back. Plus, I got to experience the long lost Welles film without the preconceived notions that would certainly have come along with seeing this first and hearing all the praise from his colleagues and other filmmakers.
Like many other enigmatic public figures, Welles is put under a bit of a microscope here, though the majority of the film revolves around his final project, specifically. But, as in life, he always looms large over the production as a whole, and his presence can be felt even in an interview with someone else, as people seem choosy with their words regarding the man and his work. The editing is impressive, and works very well in conjunction with its parent film, jumping with reckless abandon between Wind footage, interviews in the 70s and 80s, modern day footage and a narrator-like overseer character in a projection booth of sorts. It’s somewhat meta for a documentary, but this helps it feel pioneering, in the spirit of the late director himself. It can feel madcap at times, but considering the fact that it is examining the late stages of one of cinema’s biggest renegades and quintessential indie filmmakers, it all fits.
Since Wind was a movie about a movie, I suppose this would have to be a movie about a movie about a movie. It may not be as inclusive as other documentaries, but that doesn’t make the subject matter less fascinating, it simply means some will get a lot more out of it than others. I am far from a Welles completionist, so even my enjoyment had its limits, but it succeeded in making me want to seek out more of the man’s work (and thankfully Netflix has my back with a few titles that this movie specifically brought up among his best). But in terms of observing genius at work and peering into the creative process of a man once adored and later exiled from Hollywood, this is a resounding success and can be downright inspirational. It’s a testament to both Welles and Neville that we could watch something so damning of the Hollywood machine (in turns, to be fair) that can somehow make the amateur artist inside all of us want to grab some lights and a camera and yell “action!”