By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
In many ways, Orson Welles is like General George Patton. A wunderkind in his field, he is the inspiration to some, a pariah to others. But there’s no denying the impact both men left on the world. But while General Patton’s legacy belongs to world history, and his final acts as a military commander are legendary, Welles’ final work has languished uncompleted and nearly forgotten, until now. But now, Netflix has bought the rights to distribute The Other Side of the Wind.
The film has sat uncompleted since Welles’ died in 1985, and for the last thirty years, Welles’ devotees like director Peter Bogdanovich and Producer Frank Marshall have worked to complete the film based on the script, final edited reels, and Welles’ copious notes. But you could make a movie based on the saga of that effort.
For 30 years The Other Side of the Wind has been in and out of court with legal battles. The French film lab who housed the negatives went bankrupt, and the film itself vanished for years. Marshall, Bogdanovich, and filmmaker Filip Rhymsa searched for five years to find it. And after finally recovering all the negatives and notes, they didn’t know if they could raise the $2 million needed to finally bring Welles’ final film to the screen.
“I thought, isn’t there another way. Hasn’t this film suffered enough? It’s like a lost Picaso lost in a closet somewhere.” – Filip Rhymsa
Marshall and Rhymsa turned to crowdfunding with an Indiegogo campaign in 2015 in the hopes of bringing what many call “The Holy Grail of filmmaking” across the finish line. But after first falling short of the original goal of two million dollars, they revised the goal to half that, and relaunched the campaign.
But time would have one last laugh, as even with both Marshall and Bogdanovich signed on as producers to the project, the campaign was only able to raise 40% of that revised goal. It’s as if Welles’ star had dulled to the point that no one could see his shadow.
And that’s where things sat until Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos came calling, and the streaming company has put up the remainder of the funds to finish the project and will stream it for the world to see. It makes sense. So many projects that were once deemed dead before their time, have been resurrected thanks to the bold content vision of Netflix. It’s a modern Phoenix that raises doomed projects from the ashes for one last moment in the sun.
“Like so many others who grew up worshipping the craft and vision of Orson Welles, this is a dream come true,” said Sarandos, in a statement released by the company. “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. Cinephiles and film enthusiasts around the world will experience the magic of Orson Welles once again or for the very first time.”
“I can’t quite believe it, but after 40 years of trying, I am so very grateful for the passion and perseverance from Netflix that has enabled us to, at long last, finally get into the cutting room to finish Orson’s last picture.” – Frank Marshall
Currently, all of the surviving negatives have been shipped to Los Angeles and work as begun on scanning, cleaning up and editing The Other Side of the Wind, and we’ll finally get to see Welles’ swan song completed. In many ways, the tale kind of mirrors Welles’ infamous words as a spokesman for Paul Masson wines. “We will serve no wine before its time.” Well, the time is now for The Other Side of the Wind, and it’s one heck of a (belated) 100th birthday present.