The Other Side of the Wind (2018) – Orson Welles’ Final Film

Orson Welles, one of the most valued directors during his lifespan until his death. Classic movie fans or film industry activists are certainly familiar with the name. Every count of his movies is a cult-classic masterpiece. Call it “Citizen Kane”, one of the best works by the filmmaker. “Touch of Evil”, one of the most legendary movies known for its legendary tracking shot. “The Stranger”, “The Trial”, “F for Fake” and others are just a few examples of his genius work. Critics and people know his figure who was quite visionary in his era. Welles, besides being a director, was also often an actor in his own films.

Orson Welles was very fond of starting his movie with a death. The best example was “Citizen Kane”. Aside from being one of the most obligatory movies by film school, this film begins its story with the tragedy of death. Played by himself, a publishing tycoon encouraged a journalist to find out the meaning of the “Rosebud” word before he finally died. What about “Touch of Evil”? The film begins its story with the death of an American contractor due to an explosion in his car.

“Touch of Evil” is one of the most inspiring works of the director. The film introduces 3 minutes of unbroken tracking single-shot technique. The first sequence of the movie starts the car parking scene until it runs down the city and focuses on the main character. Alejandro G. Iñárritu applied this technique in his “Birdman”. In the end, Iñárritu managed to bring the film to the Best Picture in Academy Awards, 2015. Orson Welles always got positive criticism and various awards including Best Writing for “Citizen Kane”. On the other hand, he has never been a commercial success. That’s what makes Hollywood always stay away from Welles.

And here it is, finally reaching here after more than 40 years delayed. Netflix bought the right of this film so it became “The Other Side of the Wind”. This film became Orson Welles’s last legacy before he died in 1985. Starting production in 1970, Welles died and the film never finished. There are various reasons why this film was never finished. One of them was a lack of funds. As well, Welles had to deal with political elements in the film industry at the time. The inability of other directors to explore what’s actually Welles said to be one of the procrastinators as well. Finally, the film industry ignores this film because there was no one want to direct this.

In 2002, the project began again but unfortunately, it was hampered. Oja Kodar and Beatrice Welles competed and disputed to hold the rights to this film. Then in 2017, the film meets its brightest point. Oja Kodar was the main actor in this film. In addition, he was also Welles’ ex-lover during his lifetime. Kodar came to an agreement with Netflix. They neglected for almost 50 years. Beatrice Welles, Orson Welles’ daughter, and also Peter Bogdanovich and Frank Marshall helped the production. Finally, the film finished in April 2018. Kodar herself acted as an assistant writer of Welles.

“The Other Side of the Wind” has a unique yet ambitious theme. You can say it’s a combination of “Adaptation.” and “Birdman”. This meta-narrative has two different films on it. The first is the main plot about Jake Hannaford (John Huston), the film director. This plot uses black-and-white and colored off-the-wall mockumentary format. Jake was an old director who was directing his last film but troubled by lack of funds. Hannaford, besides directing the film, is celebrating his 70th birthday party at his home. He showed the film to investors and film industry. People always consider Hannaford’s trademark as surrealism, absurdity, nudity, and most importantly, lack of dialogue.

In the process, Hannaford has new facts revealed in front of his guests and friends. People really disliked his recognition and unclear attitude. Finally, he lives alone. “The Other Side of the Wind” was completed in 1976. The packaging of raw footage has 96 hours. Welles wants this film as 90-minutes or just 2 hours movie. He also just edited about 45 minutes. This is what caused him difficulties in funding so he had to go back to being an actor. In order to get an honorarium that he could later use to finance the film, his dream never came true.

“The Other Side of the Wind” is a meta-film and 60s drama satire film. Welles considers that the films in that year always show vulgarity, exploitation of women’s nudity, and unclear final conclusions. In addition, this film is a reflection of Orson Welles’ own life. From the first premise, the film seems to resemble his life and the making of this. In this film, the life of Welles seems to be the shadow of Jake Hannaford.

Orson Welles and Jake Hannaford were well-known directors but on the other hand, they both had difficulty completing the film because of funding. The first sequence of the movie shows Jake Hannaford crashing his car after everyone leaves him. Like Welles where the film was never finished until his death. They both also had to face all the matters from the critic who blasphemed his film and family. Those are the highest point of who Orson Welles was. He melted away his real life in an absurd way to become this ambitious project.

“The Other Side of the Wind”, in its entirety, is not a pleasant film for some people. In addition to this is a Welles final movie, incomplete film snippets and moving scenes between the main movie and the main story are quite difficult if you understand. I don’t really know but, anyone would definitely leave this film. The mockumentary is very much talking about the life of Hannaford, or Orson Welles, in presenting the background of the film. However, “The Other Side of the Wind” is clearly a masterpiece just like all his films. The presence of this film, for fans of Welles works, can just drink this in the throat. Netflix also seriously presents all old movies into streaming media with HD quality.

4 out of 5 stars.