Brief comments on the filmography of Orson Welles – Second part | Always!

I continue and finish the internet research, supported by film books, mere historiographical pleasure, of the filmography of Orson Welles, assuming that there are no limits for research and film criticism, related to the filmographies of the great directors and, in particular, the filmography of Orson Welles, selected, on this occasion, among the others, more for its singularity, for its qualitative determinability, its individuality and its originality, than for its abstract and concrete universality.

shadows of evil (Touch of Evil, United States, 1957). “It is the story of Quinlan, an abusive policeman, who, endowed with a superior intuition, stages a murder to blame an alleged culprit. But he will be lost, falling into the trap set by another. What does this fable mean? Furious at the murder of his wife, a slave to his past that he cannot forget, Quinlan is a kind of demiurge who wants to fix the world and beings at his whim, according to the image he has made of himself. from them. ‘He represents in my eyes – Orson Welles has said – everything I hate most in the world: the will of power, which authorizes the pursuit of an end, whatever the means.’ But, more than the process of the abusive police officer, it is that of moral terrorism and intimidation. Memorable: the constant use of the wide angle, the mobility of the camera and a terrifying sequence, reminiscent of German expressionism” (Jean Mitry).

Masterpiece, which begins with a long and masterful sequence shot, in which the noir genre acquired, in the theme, blacker nuances than usual, because evil is resized to the paroxysm of corruption and exacerbated vice. Film of the black series that escapes all classification.

The abusive policeman is not, following Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton, a passive hero who allows himself to be dragged to the edge between law and crime, as in The Lady of Shanghai; It is not about playing at not understanding anything in the intrigue, but rather the behavior of a psychopath is perfectly understood; It is not a question – he continued following Borde and Chaumeton – of horror day (Journey into Fear, United States, 1943) by Norman Foster, or ‘how fear makes us heroic’, where, with a script by Orson Welles, the exceptional ease, the subtlety of his style, appear in the precision of the montage and in the the plastic beauty of photography. Foster and Welles have found -Border and Chaumeton continue- the great laws of the noir genre; dreamlike action; unusual suspects; a silent murderer with thick glasses, a veritable barrel of grease, cinched in his raincoat, and who plays an old scratched record on an old speaker device before each death…

shadows of evil It is true film noir at its most generic. Evil, a human condition that emerges uncontrollably due to individual corruption, is defined by the good cop (Mike Vargas, played by Charlton Heston), the counterpart of the bad cop (Hank Quinlan, played by Orson Welles), as follows: “the work of a Policing is only easy in a police state… Who is in charge, the police or the law, that is the question”.

The process (The Trial, France, 1962). “The story of Joseph K…, the aberrant situation in which he finds himself, the blind mechanisms of justice and authority that crush him without him knowing what he is accused of, the sinking into the absurd, which constitutes the essence of Franz Kafka’s novel, are too universally known for it to be necessary to dwell on them here.

The adaptation that Orson Welles has made has allowed him to make a prestigious work, faithful to the spirit of the original work and, however, different, in the sense that metaphysical anguish (due to a form of literary expression) finds a fortunate equivalent in a kind of obsessive anguish, due to the crushing atmosphere, to the suffocation of the world in which the hero struggles. Baroque expressionism, dreamlike delirium, enchantment, the magic of shapes, lights and montage, find their way out in the incorporation of a mythology that is more Wellesian than Kafkaesque, but no less dazzling” (Jean Mitry).

The process it is a study on persecution. In a letter by Franz Kafka, quoted by Peter Cowie, one reads: “Prague does not let one go; It has claws, and if someone wanted to free themselves from this city, they would have to set it on fire.” Orson Welles’ adaptation of the novel to film is a profound reflection on anguish and is considered a masterpiece by most serious critics, even today. “…he achieves an effect through cinematic means that perfectly expresses the terrifying vision of the modern world that is transparent behind the original book” (Peter Cowie).

chimes at midnight (Falstaff, Spain-Switzerland, 1965). In a sui generis synopsis, we are told: “England, the Hundred Years’ War (14th and 15th centuries), Henry IV, the first monarch of the Lancaster dynasty, in 1399 seized the throne from his cousin Richard II. ” Comments: Adaptation of various Shakespeare plays: Henry IV, Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Richard II. It should be noted that Sir John Falstaff is a fictional character created by Shakespeare. He appears in three of his works and receives a eulogy in a fourth. A notable eulogy of Falstaff comes in Act II, Scene III of Henry V (those who know the English playwright’s works know this), where Falstaff does not appear as a character on stage, but his death is narrated by Mrs Quickly, in terms that some scholars have attributed to Plato’s description of Socrates’ death, after drinking hemlock. By comparison, Falstaff is presented as the buffoonish suitor of two married women in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

deep (UK, 1970). Unfinished. According to FILMAFFINITY, Welles adapted Charles Williams’ novel “Dead Calm” and shot it on the coast of Croatia. Commercial thriller, set in a claustrophobic drifting ship. In the Munich Film Museum is one of the working prints that has been restored.

Fraud (F for Fake, France, 1973). In FILMAFFINITY, read: Documentary about fraud and forgery that focuses on the figure of the forger Elmyr de Hory and his biographer, Clifford Irving, also author of the fraudulent biography of Howard Hughes. It also recounts Hughes’s imprisonment and Welles’s career, which began with the radio broadcast of a fake Martian invasion: “The War of the Worlds.”

Filming Othello (Germany, 1978). Documentary about the making of Othello that I have not seen.

Brief comments on the filmography of Orson Welles – Second part | Always!