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Orson Welles’ Final Film Will Be Completed and Released on Netflix

Citizen Kane
RKO Pictures

1,083 reels of old film represent one of the great Holy Grails of movie history. They’re the unassembled components of The Other Side of the Wind, the final unfinished project of director Orson Welles. Shot over the course of many years in the 1970s, and starring a cast that included directors John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich, The Other Side of the Wind was a complex tale about an aging movie director attempting to mount a career comeback. (Surely the story had no personal resonance for Welles whatsoever.) Financial and legal troubles mounted, and Welles was unable to complete the film before he passed away in 1985. For decades, those 1,083 reels sat in a French film lab, waiting for the right team to come along and do something with them.

Wellesnet reports that, after literally decades of stops and starts (which you can read about in a 2015 article in The New York Times), The Other Side of the Wind may actually become a reality, one that will be available worldwide in the near future on Netflix. Producer Filip Jan Rymsza told Wellesnet that the all-important reels are on their way to Los Angeles, where he and others “will finally bring this film to life.” Said Rymsza:

I told [Netflix] very early on that to me they were the ‘dream release’ —  to have it global  and to be able to have it with that wide of a reach;  more than any Orson film by a magnitude of  I-don’t-know-how-many. I felt it was a wonderful match and also one where Orson’s film is never going to be judged by its box office. His films weren’t commercially successful and I am sure that affected him. The films were appreciated decades later. I felt this was fitting. It will be purely a celebration and nobody is going to be looking at the numbers.

Rymsza also said that the deal with Netflix also calls for the delivery of a 35mm print of the finished film, which could open the door to a possible theatrical release alongside the Netflix rollout. If that happened, and film lovers around the world were able to see this great director’s last effort on the big screen, it would provide an ending to this story that not even a filmmaker of Welles’ magnitude could have scripted.

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