Orson Welles’ final film, The Other Side of the Wind, was shot from 1970-1976, but it wasn’t fully assembled until this year. The film released by Netflix today is an imperfect salvage job. Welles only finished editing about 40-50 minutes of the movie himself at the time of his death. Editor Bob Murawski was tasked with finishing the movie from the 100 hours of raw footage (with some scenes still unshot), using Welles’ notes as a guide. Michel Legrand, the French jazz composer who did the score for 1974’s F for Fake (the final movie Welles completed himself) created music for The Other Side of the Wind by approximating what he thinks Orson Welles would have wanted. Filmmaker Peter Bogdonavich offers a voiceover at the beginning, which Welles would have done himself.
So many talented people worked on completing The Other Side of the Wind, but they did so with the most important figure missing. And you can feel it.
The Other Side of the Wind reminds me of posthumous novels assembled from half-finished drafts and stray notes to an editor, or a full album built around a handful of a dead person’s demos. The finished work calls attention to the talents of the missing person, the same way you can tell when ingredients are missing from your favorite dish. To put it another way, the movie made me notice the absence of the wind because I sat uncomfortably through two hours of stodgy, stuffy, weightless air.