Orson Welles’ final film ‘The Other Side of the Wind’ is many things; provocative, artsy, abstract, controversial, and a masterpiece. The ‘Citizen Kane’ director may have left us over 30 years ago, but his legacy lives on with the films he has made (he did more than just ‘Citizen Kane’). However, one of the films he had yet to complete was ‘The Other Side of the Wind’, which he had claimed to be his magnum opus. It is easy to see the parallels between the life of Welles and John Huston’s Jake Hannaford (whose film-within-a-film is also titled ‘The Other Side of the Wind’). They are both directors who see their work as masterpieces even when no one else seems to understand the work they put in.
It might be coincidental, but the way both this film and the film-within-a-film were deemed unfinished feel as close to each other than you would expect; that is where the brilliance lies. All Welles wanted to make was a satire on the pressures of Hollywood and the way people treat indie artists whose visions do not seem to be accepted by the movie-going public. It is definitely one of those films most people will turn away from due to its abstract nature, yet that is the point. Hannaford’s film seems to have no plot whatsoever and follows a man (Robert Random) obsessively chasing a woman (Oja Kodar) with scenes of sex and nudity ensuing, parodying the controversies of avant-garde cinema; while the style and direction these films take may be symbolic to the filmmaker, it may be considered “filthy smut” to audiences expecting entertainment.
Welles has really outdid himself with ‘The Other Side of the Wind’, and whether many of his unfinished works will eventually be released or completed are yet to be known. However, it is good to know that Welles still lives on in the hearts of studios wishing to bring something new and original to cinemas.