From Sight and Sound, Summer 1986 and my 2007 collection Discovering Orson Welles. For the first half of this article, and a detailed account of how it came to be written, please go here.
In my synopsis of The Big Brass Ring, I erroneously identify Kim Meneker’s former lover as “a basket-case casualty from Vietnam” rather than from the Spanish Civil War. –- J.R.
Not to be confused with Peter Yates’s 1977 feature of the same title, this adaptation of Charles Williams’s thriller Dead Calm, scripted by Welles, was shot in color off the Dalmatian coast at Hvar, Yugoslavia, between 1967 and 1969, with Welles, Laurence Harvey, Jeanne Moreau, Oja Kodar and Michael Bryant. Most of this film was shot and edited, but gaps remain due to the death of Laurence Harvey in 1973 and the still undubbed part of Jeanne Moreau. Welles, Kodar and others have regarded this as the least of his features, so one imagines that it has a low priority on the list of works to be completed and/or released — although, as Kodar points out, priorities may change on any project if investment is forthcoming.
At the Rotterdam film festival last January, Kodar, Dominique Antoine and I compiled a 90-minute videotape of Wellesiana to be shown there, and among the clips we included was a two-minute trailer for The Deep — an early action sequence including brief glimpses of all five of the characters on two yachts and an effective use of percussive jazz (bass and drums) on the soundtrack.… Read more »
From Sight and Sound, Summer 1986 and my 2007 collection Discovering Orson Welles (the source of the following notes in italics as well).
I was living in Santa Barbara when Welles died on October 10, 1985, teaching
what I believe was the first of the three Welles courses I taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and lecturing on The Magnificent Ambersons that same day. On November 2, I attended a lengthy Welles tribute held at the Directors Guild in Los Angeles, and recall sitting with a few other Welles fans, including Todd McCarthy and Joseph McBride, at a restaurant for many hours afterwards, holding what amounted to a kind of personal wake.
This wasn’t long after I’d managed to read and acquire xeroxed copies of two late, unrealized Welles screenplays, The Big Brass Ring and The Cradle Will Rock, and one of the idées fixes I had after his death was that both of them should be published, along with the Heart of Darkness script (another fixation that had persisted since the early 70s); if memory serves, I even wrote a letter soon after Welles’ death to Paola Mori, Welles’ widow, expressing this wish, but never got a response.… Read more »
From Wide Angle, vol. 8, no. 3-4, 1986. –- J.R.
FILM STYLE AND TECHNOLOGY: HISTORY AND ANALYSIS by Barry Salt, Starword, 3 Minford Gardens, London W14 0AN, England, 1983: paper, $ 15.00, 408 pages, lllustrations
Review by Jonathan Rosenbaum
It is a sad commentary on the narrowness and inflexibility of current academic publishing
in film studies that this major work had to be brought out at the author’s own expense.
Handsomely produced and generously priced, Film Style and Technology: History and
Analysis offers what is conceivably the most detailed account of film technology that we
have had to date, stretching from 1885 through the Seventies, with roughly one chapter
per decade, and for this aspect of the book alone, no comprehensive library devoted to
film history can afford to be without it. In addition, the book’s innovative use of statistical
style analysis, while problematical in relation to certain stylistic issues, nevertheless
introduces a new form of rigor to film analysis that deserves to be considered in detail.
If, as a “total” view of cinema, Salt’s approach often seems constricted, it nonetheless
yields a wealth of potentially useful material to many different kinds of film scholars.
As Salt’s title makes clear, a technological history of film represents only one part
of his enterprise.… Read more »
From the March 1986 Video Times. — J.R.
(1984), C, Director: Volker Schlöndorff. With Jeremy Irons, Ornella Muti, Alain Delon, Fanny Ardant, and Marie-Christine Barrault. 110 min. Subtitled. Cinematheque (Media). $59.95.
They said it couldn’t be done, and strictly speaking, it hasn’t been. Proust is ultimately as unfilmable a writer as they come, and any attempt to translate his work to the screen has to be chancy undertaking. But if we approach Swann in Love as variations on a theme by Proust — a work in its own right, and not an effort to translate the untranslatable — then director Volker Schlöndorff’s elegant film emerges as much finer than critics have admitted.
Clearly, any work as labyrinthine as Remembrance of Things Past – or even Swann in Love, the lengthy, self-contained section of the first volume on which this film concentrates — has to be drastically simplified and formally revamped in order to fit within the borders of a feature film. The solution adopted is to focus almost exclusively on the events of a single pivotal day in the plot. Charles Swann (Jeremy Irons). a wealthy Jewish art critic of 19th-century Paris who moves in aristocratic circles, discovers over this day that his infatuation with the courtesan Odette de Crécy (Ornella Muti) has grown into a jealous obsession.… Read more »
From Video Times (February 1986). — J.R.
AGUIRRE, WRATH OF GOD
(1972), C, Director: Werner Herzog. With Klaus Kinski, Roy Guerra, Del Negro, and Helena Rojo. 90 min. Subtitled. Continentai, $39.95. ****
Among contemporary movies that aspire to create the resonance of myth, there are few more compelling than this 1972 masterpiece. Directed by German filmmaker Werner Herzog, the film stars Klaus Kinski in the title role. At once a 16th century Peruvian adventure story about the legend of El Dorado and a somewhat indirect parable about modern imperialism, Aguirre, Wrath of God can be regarded as one of the key influences on Francis Coppola’s 1979 Apocalypse Now. The fact that Herzog himself launched a treacherous journey through the backwaters of Peru in order to film his tale helped to popularize the notion of the director as mad Faustian conquistador. When Herzog himself attempted to surpass Aguirre a decade later with Fitzcarraldo, another insane, “historic” journey up the Amazon, the result was only a pale dilution of the original.
The film opens with a printed title that perfectly establishes the aura of legend: “After the conquest and sack of the Incan empire by Spain, the Indians invented the legend of El Dorado, a land of gold, located in the swamps of the Amazon tributaries.… Read more »