‘The Other Side of the Wind’ is renowned as one of the great unfinished movies. Shot between 1970 and 1976, editing continued into the 80s. The director-writer-editor was the great Orson Welles, who died before it was finished. The infamous production is explored in new doc ‘They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead’ and both are released concurrently on Netflix. They provide companion pieces to each other, it is essential to see both.

Welles has always been border-crossing with his features and ‘Other Side’ is no different. In fact, it is overly ambitious, barely able to contain its themes and message. It ends up being a hot mess, beautiful but confounding. It’s more ‘The Room’ than ‘Citizen Kane’. Wells throw sh*t at the wall until something sticks. Of course the writing and acting are far superior.

The Other Side of the Wind

Cast-wise Huston makes as compelling a lead as you’d expect. Peter Bogdanovich is also excellent. It is Croatian artist Oja Kodar – co-writer of the film with Welles, as well as his lover – who steals the show though. Mind you, it helps that she’s naked for most of the film. She plays the star of Hannaford’s movie (namely the film-with-a-film), which is striking and tantalising. It is also exploitative and pornographic. Orson must have been aware of this.

The final edit of ‘Other Side’ has a methodical madness and a surreal flow. The beginning and final act do drag. It’s very much a movie buff’s movie, not only in its arthouse format but also in its dialogue. There are conversations about the movie industry, filmmaking and its commercial function versus artistic merit. But it feels stuck in its time and doesn’t strike one as revolutionary. Cinema has accomplished much since 'Other Side' kicked off in 1970. Perhaps Welles observed this, even back in the 80s, which disheartened him and then he couldn’t finish the edit satisfactorily. One of the interviewees in ‘They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead’ says he never intended to finish it. Still, when appreciators of Welles’ work see the film – edited without him, it must only be a snippet of his vision – they won’t feel disappointed but privileged to see the mark of a genius one last time.