The Other Side of the Wind

The Other Side of the Wind


The last film from Orson Welles, 40 years in the making, is finally complete thanks largely to Netflix. It will release on the streaming service alongside a documentary on Welles, They'll Love Me When I'm Dead.... More

In 1970, legendary director Orson Welles began filming what would ultimately be his final cinematic opus with a cast of Hollywood luminaries including John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, Susan Strasberg and Welles’s partner during his later years, Oja Kodar. Beset by financial issues, the production ultimately stretched years and gained notoriety, never to be completed or released. More than a thousand reels of film negatives languished in a Paris vault until March of 2017, when producers Frank Marshall (who served as Welles’s production manager during his initial shooting) and Filip Jan Rymsza spearheaded efforts to have the film completed after over 40 years.

Featuring a new score by Oscar-winning composer Michel Legrand and reassembled by a technical team including Oscar-winning editor Bob Murawski, The Other Side of the Wind is Orson Welles’s vision fulfilled. It tells the story of grizzled director J.J. “Jake” Hannaford (Huston), who returns to Los Angeles after years in self-exile in Europe with plans to complete work on his own innovative comeback movie. Both a satire of the classic studio system and the New Hollywood that was shaking things up, Welles’s last artistic testament is a fascinating time capsule of a now-distant era in moviemaking as well as the long-awaited “new” work from an indisputable master.Hide

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Flicks Review

It’s probably not a stretch to imagine that Orson Welles would’ve got a kick out of seeing his final, long-in-limbo picture The Other Side of the Wind released today—if only for the cinema-from-beyond-the-grave sleight-of-hand it represents. That someone other than the notoriously perfectionist Welles, namely editor Bob Murawski, has put the finishing touches on it—I’m less certain.... More

Assembled from 100 hours of previously locked-up footage, using Welles’ notes as a guide, the reconstruction is as unpolished and shambolic as an unfinished draft, and best approached as a sincere approximation of his vision.

The Other Side of the Wind is essentially Welles’ giant last-gasp fart at Hollywood, a deeply cynical meta-movie that both drips with the wounded desperation of a “miserable prick” and the ahead-of-its-time formal bravura that’s become a hallmark of his oeuvre.

It’s all pretty dizzying to process on first viewing, even more difficult to extricate from the incredible legend and circumstance that surrounds its existence. Nonetheless, The Other Side of the Wind is endlessly fascinating, executed with a sweaty, almost maniacal, improvisational abandon that somehow doesn’t feel tossed off. Welles juggles aspect ratios and film stock, casts real-life filmmakers alongside screen analogs (John Huston’s cigar-chomping Jake Hannaford is a barely veiled Welles), and shoots the most hilariously perfect Antonioni-aping art flick you’ll ever see. It’s a boozy, audacious, navel-gazing trip that couldn’t be made today.

For optimal viewing experience, pair it with They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (also on Netflix), Morgan Neville’s documentary which unpacks the film’s tortured five-decade history. It’s stuffed with plum, astonishing anecdotes, not to mention priceless footage of Welles in the creative thick of his process, that some viewers may find more rewarding than the film it’s about.Hide

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The Press Reviews

  • From this perspective, it well surpasses what was widely thought to be possible and in no way feels like a transgression or a betrayal. Which is saying a lot. Full Review

  • What can be said with certainty is that this version of Wind is perplexing, sometimes exhausting but never less than fascinating. Full Review

  • Whatever its flaws, it is an enthralling portrait and a study of work destined always to be in progress. Full Review

  • Magic loomed large in the imagination of Orson Welles, and here is the maestro's final trick: a flabbergasting curveball tossed from beyond the grave, with a Harry Lime-sized smirk. Full Review

  • An eccentric, rather choppy, but highly watchable movie, and Orson Welles is quite alive in it. You can feel the intensity of his DNA in its sinister atmosphere of garish noir depravity. Full Review

  • What to call this Hollywood takedown from Orson Welles, besides the best 1970's movie to be released in the 21st century? It's also chaotic and jumbled and strictly for those who care about the history of film and its indispensable master builder. Full Review

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