“The Other Side of the Wind”: Orson Welles Own Serious Parody of Himself and Cinema

Orson Welles last film The Other Side of the Wind (on Netflix) reconstituted from footage and assembled by a master team of film editors, directors and Welles scholars, establishes some lofty goals, mainly how to have both a serious film enshrouded in the shell of an intentionally bad one. Wind uses different film styles (black and white, color, still and moving) to comment on the meaning and value of cinema itself, Welles own oeuvre and life, as well as what he see as the pretentiousness of European art cinema of the 1970’s.

Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriske Point becomes the subject of the parody film, also called The Other Side of the Wind, a florid overdone art statement featuring a man, a woman, a desert, and abundant nudity and sex. It is ironically both funny and a better Antonioni. The old master can still outclass the modern auteurs.

Welles takes the whipping of the European art movement to the outer film. The black and white documentary being shot at the film’s party, is counterbalanced with grainy color verite of the actual event— verite commenting on verite, commenting on cinema, and the pretense, seriousness and tragedy that follows leading the life of an artist. The chimeras in Wind are multilevel and profound.

Likes Welles life and art Wind is brilliant, pathetic, sad, triumphant, comic, tragic and an impersonation. Director John Houston delivers the ultimate Welles proxy and imitation. The Other Side of the Wind is the appropriate final word and farewell to the greatness of Welles.

Advertisements