Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A theory on the meaning of the title of "The Other Side Of The Wind"

By Lars Trodson

There has been great debate about whether there is any meaning behind the title of Orson Welles’s last film, “The Other Side Of The Wind.” Welles claimed that he didn’t have the “foggiest” idea of what it signified, if anything at all.

I think Welles was being his usual evasive self, but for the first time it was a self-conscious kind of elusiveness. He was, after all, making the film during a period when he was trying to regain a footing in the American film industry, which had also, at the exact same time, taken a hard left toward “youth movies” — movies made by, and about, young people. This was a revolution inspired by the profitable B-movies of the mid- to late-1960s, which then received mainstream blessing by the success of “Easy Rider,” in 1969. Welles, maverick he may have been, was 55 years old when he started "The Other Side Of The Wind" in 1970.

Welles was making a film decidedly outside the studio system, and it was about people who were also involved in the studio system to varying degrees — even the film’s ostensible protagonist, Jake Hannaford, is an old lion trying to make an experimental film (if the plot synopses online are accurate).

All of this — Welles’s own outsider status, the fringe nature of the production of “The Other Side of the Wind” itself, and the experimental techniques that Welles hoped to bring to this production, indicate that he wanted to make something completely un-Hollywood-like; that is, everything that is the opposite of a movie like “Gone With The Wind.” 

GWTW may not be the greatest movie ever made but, as many have said, it is probably the single greatest example of a Hollywood studio picture. GWTW was created by the establishment, produced in luxury with a great deal of money, sparkled with movie stars, built by craftsmen and technicians and which would then be sold to the public by highly paid publicity agents. It is the ne plus ultra of Hollywood films

Welles, with his own movie, was the exact opposite of “Gone With The Wind,” a completely different kind of movie. There was no money, no structure, no schedule. There had been movies made about making movies before “The Other Side Of The Wind,” but they were always about Hollywood movies, not the ones made by the renegades.

Welles, had he gotten his movie finished on time, would have been the first to show the other side of that polished, monied moviemaking process.