The Other Side of the Wind, a film 40 years in the making has finally been released with the assistance of Netflix.
Unfortunately, this long-awaited film project delivers subpar entertainment.
Every college student needs a good distraction to turn to in between heavy workloads, and Netflix is a perfect source for that with titles both new and old for viewers to enjoy.
Netflix is known for funding and giving a platform for some of the most renowned creative minds in the entertainment industry. These creative minds provide Netflix with great, exclusive content that draws more people into their service. While some projects may soar (Stranger Things), others might crash and burn (Death Note).
The late, great Orson Welles’ final film falls short more than it soars.
Creative ideas can be risky, but the payoff can be revolutionary. Orson Welles had managed to change the face of cinema with the creation of Citizen Kane (1941), and there was the chance to do the same with The Other Side of the Wind‘s unique narrative style of having a movie unfold within a movie. In the 1970s, which was the intended time of release, this might of been more impactful than present day.
Due to roadblocks during the production process and Welles’ death in 1985, the film sat in limbo for 40 years and passed into legend.
The fabled film chronicles the last day in the life of Jake Hannaford (played by John Huston), a legendary director of a bygone Hollywood era.
Hannaford is a sardonic alcoholic who is starting to contemplate the legacy he is leaving behind. On his 70th birthday, Hannaford throws a viewing party for his last, incomplete project. An arthouse film called “The Other Side of the Wind.”
On paper, the concept of the film seems pretty interesting. Unfortunately, what could’ve been a great story is weakened by both messy film making and storytelling choices.
It’s only natural to feel excited when finally getting a chance to see a film that has been lost to time, but that excitement quickly dissipated.
The Other Side of the Wind contains some of the most jarring and disruptive editing that has ever been seen in an Orson Welles’ production, especially in the beginning of the film.
The scenes are spliced together like an incoherent mosaic of film stock both in black-and-white and color.
Yes, you read that right: the film has a tendency to jump from a classic Hollywood look to a more modern color approach. Maybe the constant change in color was supposed to be symbolic of the changing landscape of Hollywood at the time; out with the old, in with the new.
It would’ve been more powerful, though, if the use of color was utilized better in regards to their respective scenes. It seemed as if there wasn’t any reasoning as to why some scenes were in color and others not.
In addition, large amounts of dialogue are thrown at the viewer and multiple characters don’t get properly introduced at the start. The experience is similar to watching a bad home video without any context.
Without proper introduction, it’s hard to care for any of these characters. It doesn’t help either that no one in the film really has a unique and lovable personality. Many characters come off rather pompous and pretentious, such as Brooks Otterlake, who is Hannaford’s self-proclaimed apostle, (played by Peter Bogdanovich).
With only 18 minutes left of the film, a horrible realization manifested. Not a single character had managed to show any redeemable/likeable trait. It’s a problem when the viewer is at the end of a movie and they don’t care about any of the characters.
This all could’ve been solved with a better narrative that gives more insight into Hannaford’s relationship with each of the characters that work closely with him.
We’re not witnessing this story at the beginning or middle of a man’s life, but instead, at the very end. In order for a story such as this to work, the film maker needs to give the audience a chance to dive deeper into the background so that they can grow more attached to what is at stake of being lost at the end.
Citizen Kane is a great example of how to properly do that. The Other Side of the Wind, though, not so much.