The Eyes of Orson Welles, the documentary that should be seen to further round the figure of Welles, is scripted by the director with an unusual closeness and intimacy, as a personal letter that gives an almost familiar tone to a bold dialogue
The large figure, the childish and big-cheeked face, the deep set eyes and the Gioconda-like smile of Orson Welles always gave the impression that they kept a great secret, although, curiously, there’s just as much written both of him and his work as of the Second World War. He has been interpreted, studied and analyzed from every-possible angle, so it’s more than surprising that a company, a documentary, has now come forward to approach him in a way never seen: through his hobby and talent for drawing, painting, the sketches he was making throughout his travels and the preparation of his work. The director of this new documentary is Mark Cousins, and his scoop was in gaining access to the enormous amount of “minor” work by Orson Welles thanks to the collaboration of his last daughter, Beatrice Welles, born from his marriage to Paola Mori.
From any angle you take, Orson Welles is a predator of the art of his century, someone who revolutionized theater, radio and cinema in such a way that it can be said that they never recovered from his walking upright arrival with. It became during the thirties the biggest revulsive of the scene in the United States, which perhaps would not have the importance if it is not clear that Orson Welles was born in 1915! … At just 18, he staged the Voodoo Macbeth, still remembered in Harlem for the ruckus, and his production of Cradle Will Rock was the biggest revolution of that decade and beyond, and the social and theatrical disturbance he sparked had legs for a well-told account half a century later with Tim Robbins in a movie of the same title.
In 1938, that is to say, at 23, he reinvented forever the language of radio with his broadcast of the H. G. Wells work, The War of the Worlds, which shocked the country and that everyone has heard about. A realistic and impressive adaptation he made with his inseparable John Houseman and Howard Koch, who would later win an Oscar with the Epstein brothers for the script of Casablanca. And it didn’t take Welles long to innovate the cinema forever, because in a couple of years he presented to the world his masterpiece, Citizen Kane.
The Eyes of Orson Welles, the documentary that should be seen to further round the figure of Welles, is scripted by the director with an unusual closeness and intimacy, as a personal letter that gives an almost familiar tone to a bold dialogue between Mark Cousins and the author of all those drawings that explained him and his projects, and that at the same time reveal secrets, winks, unthinkable influences in his later films and even simulated and hidden feelings that show him more accessible and complex for a time. As if Cousins’ intellectual probing into the folds of genius and the fluency and eloquence of his pictorial work allied to give us an exploratory CT scan of his complex and contradictory personality, full of vehemence and rigor, of the resounding vitalism of Falstaff and a quixotic reverie , capable of turning each of his many achievements and successes into thunderous failures, and which he left to make the world at least as much as it would allow him to do. This October will be thirty-four years since his death, and he’s not likely to rest in peace.