The late Orson Welles’ great filmmaking legacy lives on 33 years after his death with the unique double release of Netflix films relating to his career Friday. “The Other Side of the Wind” was an unfinished project of Welles’ that was prevented from being released by a slew of legal and financial complications. It was recently was reconstructed and premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival. “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead,” directed by Morgan Neville, documents the making and filming of the “The Other Side of the Wind” and the film’s struggles to make it to the big screen.
“The Other Side of the Wind” coincidentally tells the story of a Hollywood director who dies before his last movie is finished. Brooks Otterlake (Peter Bogdanovich) narrates the movie as he chronicles the last day of Jake Hannaford (John Huston), a director who dies in a car crash on his 70th birthday before his last work could be completed because the star actor stormed off the set. Otterlake, a former protege of Hannaford who is a successful director in his own right, tells the story as a documentary of Hannaford’s career and subsequent last day. The experimental film-within-a-film theme and autobiographical feel makes “The Other Side” feel eerily close to Welles’ real life situation.
“The Other Side,” and its titular film Hannaford directs, are ambiguous in plot. Otterlake opens the film with random black and white images and laments about the documentary based on his mentor that he now decides to share in his old age. The plot of the film Hannaford is shooting is unclear. The various sections shown throughout the movie are flashy and stylistic in order to capture the attention of studios and a disinterested audience.
The movie’s strengths lie in its ambiguity and haunting relation to Welles’ real life. This ambiguity allows the otherwise bizarre and eccentric movie to appear purposely so. The symbolism of the movie is created with the producers only left to guess the director’s intentions, just as the unfinished movie in “The Other Side” leaves viewers to guess its purpose as well. It is not an easygoing movie, but one you need to go into with a critical mind in order to appreciate its nuanced craft.
“They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead” documents the 15-year-long production time of “The Other Side” and allows viewers insight into the director who directed “Citizen Kane.” Neville was inspired by Josh Karp’s book “Orson Welles’s Last Movie,” as both the book and documentary attempt to mimic Welles’ artistic process and wild production history, which appears chaotic in the documentary. “They’ll Love Me” is narrated by the fictional Alan Cummings and struggles to imitate the eccentricity of its dedicated film, although it offers enlightening insight into the process if you can muddle through its erratic nature.
Rating for “The Other Side of the Wind:” 3.5/5
Rating for “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead:” 2.5/5
Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.