Monday, May 20, 2019

The Eyes of Orson Welles

Written, directed, shot, and narrated by Mark Cousins, The Eyes of Orson Welles is a documentary film about the life and career of Orson Welles told through the drawings, sketches, storyboards, and Christmas cards that he created for much of his life. The film has Cousins travel to various locations including places where Welles made his films as well as the places where he came from or was inspired by as it also features an appearance from Welles’ daughter Beatrice who shows a few drawings that her father made. The result is a mesmerizing and evocative film from Mark Cousins.

The film follows film critic/historian Mark Cousins as he travels to various places including the University of Michigan where he discover many drawings, sketches, and such created by Orson Welles from his archives. Through these many drawings that Welles created including paintings, storyboards, and homemade cards, Cousins would travel through various parts of the U.S. as well as Europe to the many locations based on what Welles drew as he would tell the story in six chapters as it each play into the different roles and themes that Welles had explored throughout his career. Also serving as the film’s cinematographer and narrator, Cousins delves into the many films that Welles had done as well as a few unreleased projects such as Don Quixote and It’s All True as it play into his evolution as a filmmaker.

Much of Cousins’ direction is straightforward in terms of the compositions as he and visual effects creator Danny Carr would re-create some of the sketches that Welles made to play into what Welles was thinking with this drawing. Cousins also would draw upon some of the locations where Welles staged his plays as well as what they’ve become as well allusions to some of the stories he told and how they mirror what would happen in the real world. Even as Cousins go to Welles’ home of Kenosha, Wisconsin where not much has changed as Cousins feel it’s a town that has been neglected in some ways. Cousins would use films that Welles would star in as well as feature-length films about Welles such as Tim Robbins’ adaptation of Cradle Will Rock and Richard Linklater’s film Me and Orson Welles as examples.

With the help of editor Timo Langer in compiling footage from Welles’ films to cite examples of his visuals and personas that he would sketch out in his drawings, Cousins would match the images from the drawings but also showcase the influence Welles had on artists including some of the art that is shown in Chicago. Sound designer Ali Murray would use audio excerpts from interviews that Welles had done over the years to talk about his art as well as have a voice actor mimic Welles for a chapter in the film as it relates to what Cousins is exploring and play into the many fallacies of Welles’ persona and the contradictions in his life. It play into Cousins’ idea of Welles and everything he sees as it is amplified through Matt Regan’s wonderful music score that is a mixture of lush string arrangements and somber piano that play into the journey and varied emotions of Welles’ life.

The Eyes of Orson Welles is an incredible film from Mark Cousins. It’s a film that fans of Orson Welles would definitely want to check out as it explore the man’s artwork and how his art has managed to inspire many people since his passing. Notably as it showcases some of the realities that have come to fruition from Welles’ work about the ways of the world. In the end, The Eyes of Orson Welles is a phenomenal film from Mark Cousins.

Orson Welles Films: Citizen Kane - The Magnificent Ambersons - The Stranger (1946 film) - The Lady from Shanghai - Macbeth (1948 film) - Othello (1952 film) - Mr. Arkadin - Touch of Evil - The Trial (1962 film) - Chimes at Midnight - The Immortal Story - F for Fake - Filming Othello - The Other Side of the Wind

Related: Orson Welles: The One Man Band - Me and Orson Welles - (The Story of Film) - They'll Love Me When I'm Dead - The Auteurs #69: Orson Welles: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

© thevoid99 2019

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