Netflix To Help Complete Orson Welles’ The Other Side Of The Wind

Orson Welles

by James White |
Published on

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, Frank Marshall and Filip Jan Rymsza have been restoring and completing. Now Netflix has stepped in to provide the final financing and nab distribution rights to the finished product.

The film stars John Huston as a Welles-ish, Hemingway-esque 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, Claude Chabrol and Welles' long-term partner Oja Kodar.

Shooting and editing on T_he Other Side Of The Wind_ took place sporadically over several years, taking in Arizona, France, Holland, England, Spain, Belgium and MGM studios. 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's no date for the release just yet, but this is the most positive step yet.

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