Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Netflix set to help complete Orson Welles' The Other Side Of The Wind

While Orson Welles left behind more than one unfinished or unrealised project, one of the most famous is The Other Side Of The Wind, which a team including Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), Frank Marshall (Back To The Future) and Filip Jan Rymsza (Valley Of The Gods) have been restoring and completing. Now Netflix have stepped in to provide the final financing and bought the distribution rights to the finished product.

The film stars John Huston (The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre) as a Hemingway type film director, throwing a party on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The narrative flashes backwards and forwards through events in his long life, and encompasses the points of view of journalists present at the party, who are intent on unravelling the director's macho persona. Bogdanovich co-stars – much of the film was shot at his house, where Welles lived for two years – and the cast also includes Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider), Claude Chabrol (The Color Of Lies) and Welles' long term partner Oja Kodar (Orson Welles' The Dreamers).

Shooting and editing on The Other Side Of The Wind took place sporadically over several years, taking in Arizona, France, Holland, England, Spain, Belgium and MGM Pictures. Welles called it "96% complete" in 1972, and "on the brink of completion" in 1976. By 1979 Welles had edited about 40 minutes of the film, but then hit legal trouble over rights ownership. Like many of his later films, The Other Side Of The Wind was self financed, with Welles in this case drumming up funds from the brother of the Shah of Iran. The subsequent overthrow of the Shah proved... inconvenient.

Since then, various attempts have been made to secure the rights from different parties, and it has finally all come together with the filmmakers working on completing sequences and restoring the negative. Rymsza drummed up $400,000 via crowdsourcing in 2015, but the campaign hit controversy when things went very quiet. But now, after negotiating a deal with Netflix, the project is back on track.

"Like so many others who grew up worshipping the craft and vision of Orson Welles, this is a dream come true," says Netflix boss Ted Sarandos in a statement. "The promise of being able to bring to the world this unfinished work of Welles with his true artistic intention intact, is a point of pride for me and for Netflix."

There is no date for the release just yet, but this is the most positive step yet.

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