Archive for June 29th, 2019

By Duane Porter

With the advent of modernism almost a century and a half ago, art works such as Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, James Joyce’s Ulysses, and now The Other Side of the Wind have taken their place alongside the investigations of science and philosophy as a means toward understanding the nature of the universe. Art, rather than aspiring to mimesis, now becomes a consideration of perception and consciousness. It is when art ceases to be about something external to itself that it then begins to be about everything.

Although the themes of The Other Side of the Wind (friendship, collaboration, betrayal, guilt) are typically Wellesian it is the extremity of multiple styles in the film that is a surprise. A postmodern montage of cinematic perception (video, super-8 and 16 mm footage both black and white and color) resulting in a disparate découpage structurally juxtaposed with the formal modernism of the film within the film (on 35mm color) jars our sensibilities just enough to momentarily disrupt our equilibrium allowing us to see things with an immediacy we don’t normally have. As our balance is quickly restored we may find that we have gained, through a glimpse of self recognition, a clearer view of what is real.

The long overdue release of this film should help to renew our awareness of the importance of Orson Welles to cinema. As an uncompromising artist working in an unforgiving capitalist medium, he was in trouble from the moment Citizen Kane failed at the box-office. Although, as he occasionally said, he would’ve liked a mass audience, he wasn’t willing or even able to make films for the masses. His never-ceasing passion kept him working despite relentless adversity. As an independent filmmaker ignored by Hollywood he sought financing elsewhere, often working as an actor in the movies of others or making television commercials to get a paycheck, increasingly working outside the mainstream of commercial cinema, making the most of limited resources with innovative experimentation, he never stopped making his own movies. It is his importance as an artist that ultimately even exceeds his films. The legacy of Orson Welles stands as a monument to the autonomy of art. (more…)

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