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This Is Orson Welles


‘…an essential primer for anyone looking to expand or refine their understanding of the great man himself….’

Rules are made to be broken, and while the new 60th anniversary StudioCanal restoration of Orson Welles’ The Trial is well worth the purchase for cineastes, it would be remiss to ignore the extras included on the blu-ray, which include a deleted scene, an interview with Steven Berkoff, a good twenty-minute 2006 interview with cinematographer Edmond Richard, and a full hour-long documentary from 2015. This is Orson Welles was written and directed by Clara and Julia Kuperberg, and is an essential primer for anyone looking to expand or refine their understanding of the great man himself.

Like Hitchcock, Welles was one of the auteurs whose work is reasonably accessible to those seeking to cut their teeth on film theory, but This Is Orson Welles goes deeper than most. How did Welles learn to make films? Watching a print of John Ford’s Stagecoach every night for a month was how he got the knowledge. Famously, after a notorious detour into fake news with his live coverage of the Martian invasion of the USA circa 1938, his first film was probably his best, or at least the most revolutionary in every sense. Citizen Kane was a ferocious attack on one of the most powerful men in the world, media mogul William Randolph Hearst, filmed in secrecy and explosive in content; the ‘freshness of vision’ displayed meant that Welles would never be allowed full creative control of a major studio film for the rest of his life.

You could make a ten hour doc on this subject and still not cover enough ground; Kane comes over halfway through the running time here, so there’s little time to consider all aspects of Welles life, but it’s interesting to see Welles’ dismissal of The Stranger, and his on-going frustrations about having to ‘hustle’ for cash; ‘that’s no way to live a life’ he concludes long after the event. But This Is Orson Welles uses every second of its brief run-time to offer genuine insight, including the famous jump-cut in Touch of Evil and the remarkable throw-away detail that Welles somehow edited all his movies at double speed.

And while Peter Bognanovich, Martin Scorsese and Welles’ own daughter all have precious anecdotal morsels to offer, film-maker Henry Jaglom has the perfect topper; he worked with Welles on a film which ended with Welles literally in hysterics of laughter, and that footage is included here. You can’t get the feel of such moments from an academic text-book, and This is Orson Welles is a rare anxilliary market extra that’s worth considering on its own substantial merits.

THE TRIAL is released on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from 21st November 2022 and is available to pre-order HERE


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  1. I may need to get this simply for the documentary, unless I can get it separately. I should mention to you my interview with an authority on Welles that I think you’d enjoy. He would not call himself an authority. Just check it out and you can see for yourself. The dark side to Welles is pretty dark.

    • Yup, something DVD extras turn up elsewhere to promote the DVD; it’s not that the doc itself breaks new ground, it’s just a very succinct summary. I’ll certainly be over to check out your interview, many thanks!

    • It’s not that it’s the best Welles doc, there’s tonnes of them. But it’s a neat highlights reel that comes in just under an hour, and if you want a refresher/primer on Welles, it’s pretty good in terms of rekindling passion….

  2. I’m not sure I would have liked to have met Welles, though I hear he set a great table. I don’t think we would have got along. But he was the greatest creative genius to ever work in film.

    No more pics of my legs now that we’re in the cold weather. I’m all bundled up.

    • Rarely imagine what it would be like to hang with these people. Welles seemed pretty bitter from Ambersons onwards, so maybe not the best company. His frozen peas commercial outtakes don’t suggest he would suffer fools gladly, so that counts me out.

      Must be flattering to read such speculation about your legs, internationally.

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