8/21/14

LIVE FROM SPAIN...IT'S ORSON WELLES

Blogging from European airports is always a delight, for reasons that I've never fully been able to pin down. Perhaps it's the combination of the remoteness of the on-line world with the remoteness of a foreign airport, the mid-journey lost-ness of it all, that sends me into weirdly euphoric states such as the one I'm in now. That, plus the eleven AM glass of Chardonnay which I've liberally helped myself too, courtesy of the Marco Polo lounge at Marco Polo airport, Venice, Italy.

Speaking of which: here is wonderful little film that I recently ran across on the now by-now indispensable Youtube. It's basically a pitch reel by Orson Welles shot in Spain (where he then lived) sometime in the 1960s (I think mid-decade, based on Welles weight). In it, he tells a group of unidentified people about a film he wants to make, concerning bullfighting and an aging filmmaker. It sounds like an early sketch of "The Other Side Of The Wind" except for the bullfighting stuff--Jake Hanneford, played by John Huston in OSOTW, is clearly being tried out here as a character Welles is interested in developing.

Welles describes to the seemingly agreeable (although perhaps slightly perplexed) audience the new method that he wants to deploy in making the film. Essentially: he wants to script a story but not share the script with actors. Instead he'll tell them each scene as they come to it and get them to improvise and respond realistically to each other within the framework of the scene that Welles has in mind. It's a very new-wave kind of idea, one that alas shows both Welles strengths and weaknesses at the same time; for though it's a wonderfully innovative and unusual approach to making a narrative film, it's also the kind of thing one doesn't necessarily lead with in a pitch. Indeed, one of the audience asks Welles if he isn't worried about this approach leading to "chaos". Welles brusquely assures the person that it will not, without explaining why it won't. The fact that the film never materialized perhaps can be accounted for by the very content of this pitch reel. Welles was never his own best salesman. Peter Bogdanovich once asked him why, with his considerable charm, he couldn't squeeze more money out of people. "I'm not a con-man," Welles replied, "I'm an escape artist!"

At this point in his career, Welles was scrambling for financing, a mission he would soon mostly abandon as he moved into self-financing his later works. Clearly this little reel didn't do the trick he'd hoped--was it ever shown to anyone? Who did he make this for? But it remains a wonderful look at the filmmaker as huckster, a genius coming up with yet another way to display his wares, hoping to generate enough excitement to once again practice his craft, as his road, never typical, grows rougher and rougher.




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1 comment:

  1. Not sure about the killing bull thing .But I sure
    did enjoy seeing Orsen Welles give his speech
    and probably if I was born in Spain would have tried
    Bull Fighting . Enjoy your trip. Ciao

    ReplyDelete