50 years in the making: Orson Welles′ final feature debuts on Netflix | Film | DW | 02.11.2018
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50 years in the making: Orson Welles' final feature debuts on Netflix

When Orson Welles died in 1985, his beloved film project, "The Other Side of the Wind," was doomed to never be completed. But decades after a cinematic legend began, the Netflix film will finally take its global bow.

Since The Other Side of the Wind made its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in August, there has been great anticipation before the global release of Orson Welles' legendary film that most believed would forever remain on that long list of cursed and never-completed movie projects.

Such an end had seemed fitting since the semi-autobiographical film (though the lead character played by John Huston was said to have been more based on Ernest Hemingway than Welles), was ultimately about a director who never completes his final pet film project before he dies at the age of 70. Fifteen years after filming for The Other Side of the Wind began, Welles also died aged 70.

When Welles passed away, he had barely started on the editing due to a lack of funds (a main backer was the imprisoned brother-in-law of the Shah of Iran) and few believed they could reconstruct the hours of footage — filmed over six years between 1970-76 due to numerous interruptions — that formed a metatextual "film-within-a-film" about art and celebrity.

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USA Film l Orson Welles - The other Side of the Wind (Netflix)

Lead actor John Huston, director Orson Welles and co-star Peter Bogdanovich during filming in the 1970s

Not quite a Netlflix original

It was lucky, however, that Welles left detailed notes about how the film should be structured, tips that were picked up by director Peter Bogdanovich — who plays a young, commercially successful director in the film — and a team of devoted filmmakers and producers who edited and completed the film. It all became possible after Netflix acquired the rights and financed the reconstruction of Welles' forgotten last feature film.

In its reconstructed form, the movie has garnered much critical praise ahead of its Netflix debut. The New Yorker said Orson Welles' last movie, which came nearly two decades after his previous studio-backed production, A Touch of Evil (1958), vindicated the filmmaker's genius after he fell out with Hollywood. The cinema pioneer who changed film forever with Citizen Kane, was finally back in business. 

A bejewlled woman lights a long cigarette (1958) (picture-alliance/United Archives/IFTN)

Marlene Dietrich starred in Orson Welles' 1958 classic, "A Touch of Evil," the last of his films to get major studio investment

"The Other Side of the Wind is a settling of scores—with Hollywood, with the times, and, above all, with himself," wrote The New Yorker.  "It is a belated work of his colossal artistry, and one of the great last dramatic features by any director."

From today, audiences around the world will finally get the chance to see what was once one of the great unfinished film projects — a title also given to Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which also finally came to fruition in 2018 and is included in our gallery of cursed film projects above.

Read moreThe film that almost never was: Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote finally opens

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