Orson Welles directs John Huston on the set of The Other Side of the Wind, 1972.
The source of the picture is Orson Welles: The One-Man Band. “For Orson Welles buffs, The One-Man Band will be the most exciting experience in years. It consists almost entirely of Welles-directed material that has never been seen before except by a tiny group of insiders. Here are scenes from almost all the legendary uncompleted Welles films… Director Silovic and his crew have done a grand job in bringing some of this incredibly rare material to light, and have achieved a truly fascinating and well-constructed tribute to the master.” —David Stratton, Variety
Peter Bogdanovich, one of the stars of the film, when asked to describe The Other Side of the Wind said: “The first thing to say is, it’s a hugely ambitious picture. It’s about age and youth, success and failure, love and sex, betrayal and friendship. And it’s about Hollywood and filmmaking. You could call it a mockumentary. The conceit is you’re watching a documentary on the last day in the life of this old director, a character called Jake Hannaford, played by John Huston. He’s an old he-man type director, who’s just returned to Hollywood from Europe, and is trying to make this very arty film — which is also called The Other Side of the Wind. But his young leading man has walked off in anger, in mysterious circumstances, leaving Hannaford with an uncompleted movie So, it’s the night of his 70th birthday, and Hannaford’s throwing a big party for all his friends and enemies, anybody he knows. Among them is this young director Brooks Otterlake, who I played, a protégé of Hannaford who’s become more popular than him. Hannaford keeps up his tough-guy façade, but he’s really desperate to raise money. During the party, amid the gossip and bitching, he screens footage from his movie at his house, then again later, after a power blackout, at a deserted drive-in.”
“Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, as the sun comes up, he drives off, very drunk, gets into an accident and dies in a car crash. That’s not giving anything away. As with Citizen Kane, the film begins at the end: the first thing you see are shots of this burned-out Porsche and a voice-over — which was supposed to be Orson’s — saying: ‘This is Jake Hannaford’s car. He died on the morning of his 70th birthday. What you are about to see is a reconstruction of that evening, made with the footage shot that night.’ You see, a bunch of film students, TV journalists and documentary crews all turn up for Jake’s party, all of them filming what’s going on. And Orson shot all of it, all this raw, rough mockumentary footage, as well as Hannaford’s film, the movie-within-the-movie, which is very beautifully composed. And so the movie is extremely complicated visually, woven together from all these pieces, 16mm, 8mm, and 35mm, colour and black and white, moving images and still photography. It’s really fast and loose, really cutty, very unusual, very modern, very today.”
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