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A wonderful, personal oration with Orson Welles for once talking about his vast visual artistry and visual imagery. Welles everytime shied away from discussing such things, that his fanatics would have much loved to hear. During his conversations with Peter Bogdanovich which became "This is Orson Welles," he speaks as if his visual style never had any thematic significance. It is unbelievable to hear him finally talk about style and vindicate one for taking such joy in his visual motifs.In the second half of the movie, Welles discusses the elements of the movie which were dictated by practicality and necessity. Welles had to procure the funds for his Othello entirely himself, either from being paid to appear in another mens' movies, or from the odd backer who would contribute not nearly enough money. This meant production had to hold stopping and relocating across the world. Orson Welles was the first person in the history of cinema to create a film not attached to a certain studio or even country! When it came to the Cannes movie festival, Welles was stuck with what country to tell the film was of! He chose Morrocco for convenience, ironically where the hero Othello was originally from. This makes Orson Welles' Othello the very first independent film, and Welles went on to become the founder of the independent movie movement.Also included is a reunion luncheon party with Hilton Edwards (Desdemona's father) and Michael Macliammoir (Iago). Following, Welles further discusses the enjoy of Othello, performs a couple of key speeches from the play. The final segment is from a question time after a screening of Othello to movie students. As always, hearing Orson talk is marvellous to listen to. A wonderful, gentle coda to a boistrous movie career.
I think this movie is among the most fascinating there is. See, I think Orson Welles is among the best artists ever, in any field or time. He's a genius of light and shadow, of creating photos and rhythms that not only captivate but shape the method movies are made and how they're seen.If you have been bewitched by him, as I have been, in "F for Fake" (1974), then this movie is a drug, really. It's nice to see him talk, since he's such a charismatic narrator. Indeed, I think he should talk about anything and it'd be there to listen; considering that he discusses what I think is again among the best achievements in art, his 1952 movie "The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice" (1952). His insight into his art, and his insight into art and storytelling, also as a storyteller in the ongoing conversation, are now something I'd suggest to be studied, because they're not only first-rate, they're inspiring.His anecdote of him finding out "Othello" had won at Cannes is priceless, as well as that of the Turkish bath. Also Welles' remark that "one true life Iago is enough for any life", and his definition of a movie director as " the boy who presides over accidents, but doesn't create them."Of course this is greatest served with "Othello", but I would really see "F for Fake" too. They create for a nice experience, and Welles' "Macbeth" (1948) and "Chimes of Midnight" (1965), as well.At this writing the movie is accessible on YouTube. I suppose, as is the situation with most Welles films, the rights trouble is a tangle, since I haven't seen it on any DVDs.
The final movie of Orson Welles is perhaps his quietest, most reflective piece of work. "Filming Othello" is not, as the game might suggest, a "making of" documentary about putting the Shakespeare enjoy onto film. Instead it falls into the somewhat vaguely-defined "essay film" genre occupied by the likes of Welles' own "F for Fake", and perhaps the documentary work of Werner Herzog. This film mostly consists of its director talking into his camera toward the audience, and occasionally testing clips of his "Othello", past conversations with another actors, interviews, etc. Formally, this movie is not the most interesting in the globe (which ironically, is where Welles has largely succeeded in the past in filmmaking), but here it's the content that is truly fascinating.Nearly thirty years after putting his own ver of "Othello" onto film, here we watch Welles look back onto it, recounting both tales of the production, his own interpretations of Shakespeare's original text and discussion with others on it, reaction to the film, and finally his own want to have made it even better than it was. If this is not concerned with how to movie Shakespeare, then what "Filming Othello" is concerned with is Welles himself, and his look back at an accomplishment in his life, and with the distance from it gained by history.This movie is Welles probing his own mind, where if in "F for Fake" he shares with us his philosophy on art in general, "Filming Othello" is his philosophy on creating and thinking about his own work. And yet there's a melancholic feeling all throughout the film as Welles calmly but quietly reviews his past work. One gets the impression that here the legendary director of "Citizen Kane" who was willing to pick a war with strong newspaper tycoons at the mere age of 24 has finally been humbled by history, and that he has finally acknowledged his greatest days are behind him."Good night." Those are the words that Welles speaks to us at the film's very end, and they serve as a last, sad goodbye from a nice artist, lamenting that he should not have done more.
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