The Other Side of the Wind ★★★★

An unfinished (for years and by its original author, that is) movie about an unfinished movie, The Other Side of the Wind is an ever so beautiful, dreamy, bold and often funny commentary on the American New Wave. Among Welles' work, F for Fake (1973) might be the film that lands closer to The Other Side of the Wind, although I feel that its most truthful comparison is Antonioni's Zabriskie Point (1970). I wonder how the two films would have stood together, had Welles been able to finish The Other Side at the time.

The super 8 camera we see so present in the film was the same one that revolutionised filmmaking and allowed documentarians, critics, students, artist, etc. to make low budgeted films.

The thing that has always fascinated me about those cameras is the very physicality of their nature - the unpolished presence of cameras and booms caught on screen, the sound of a projector accompanying images, the scratches and end of reel dots that prevent us from a full immersion, reminding us constantly that we are watching a film, but also giving us the feeling that we are present at its making, that its secrets are disassembled before us. Complementing the story, Welles uses form to make us see and haptically feel the very making of a film. As this, The Other Side of The Wind feels as much a product of the New Wave as it does of its Underground Predecessors.

"The new Orson Welles film presented by Netflix" might sound like a rather surreal sentence, but seeing a film like this in a domestic environment feels somewhat truthful to its form.

Watching it last night, I felt like I was witnessing history sat on my couch and drinking hot chocolate in my pyjamas. I found it hilarious rather than offensive to the artwork. This thought framed my later attempts to contextualise the film made between the 1970's-80's, but released in 2018, and I saw parallels between the instrument of its making, and its distribution platform.

When I think of the Super 8 era, I think of intertextuality, I think of Beatniks and artists working freely across various artforms, but I mostly think about accessibility as the element that kindled the era's creative fires. It didn't feel wrong to me to watch a movie about making a Super 8 movie, on an online platform. In theory, since the invention of the Super 8 (and its successors, one of which is the smartphone), everyone can afford a camera to make films (“I think it’s relatively easy to make a good movie. Not a great movie — that’s something else”). In theory, since Netflix(-like platforms), everyone can afford to see a movie, and this only feels right to me.