‘They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead’ Review: The Fascinating Story Of The Greatest Film Orson Welles Never Finished

This documentary film tells the story of Orson Welle’s great unfinished project “The Other Side Of The Wind”. It explores the intentions behind it, the difficulties with the production, the eccentricities of Welles as a director and ultimately the film’s failure. In the process, it also interrogates Welles as a man. It examines the mythology of Welles, and in interviewing the people who worked with him in hopes to expose a profound truth about his final film, which may be more complete than anyone realized.

Morgan Neville’s film about Welles reaches us shortly after Mark Cousin’s The Eyes of Orson Welles. Cousin’s attempted a much more personal history of Welles, using an abstract structure to explore the great man’s personality and life. Neville’s film is more formal in as much as it is definitely more interested in the man’s work than his life. However profound revelations are revealed; the tragedy of the great man betrayed by the studios and the frustration at being overshadowed by his very first project.

Welle’s film is documented by the film and its production is fascinating. Welles wanted to undertake an entirely different approach for this film, planning very little and trying to encourage the little accidents that he believed made film a living, breathing entity. Yet his controlling tendencies are at odds with his mission statement. His perfectionism when it comes to his technical flourishes result in some of the most exhilarating footage he ever shot. There’s a profound sense of excitement and innovation to the work. Bewildering camera movement creates a constant sense of momentum. The edit presented here creates a sense of beautiful chaos.

Welles wanted to make a film that was simultaneously the story of a filmmaker trying to make a film, and the film itself. The stories would play out simultaneously, complimenting each other. Neville has attempted something no less ambitious in weaving the story of Welles life into this narrative of a failed film production.

They’ll love me when I’m dead is a hugely entertaining but deeply tragic story of an iconic director’s final failure. Its final twist is playful and very amusing. Welles would surely approve.

Five Stars

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