James Naremore is Chancellors’ Professor Emeritus at Indiana University. He answered some questions about the new Centennial Anniversary Edition of his touchstone work The Magic World of Orson Welles.
Q: The new edition of The Magic World of Orson Welles coincides with both the centenary of the filmmaker’s birth and the release of the unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind. How “finished” was The Other Side of the Wind?
James Naremore: It’s difficult to say at this point (July, 2015). 1,083 feet of the film, most of which isn’t fully edited, have been liberated from a Paris warehouse by a production company called Royal Road films. The original plan was to examine the print and do the complete editing in Paris, but that has apparently become impracticable. The heavily insured reels are being shipped to the US, where work will resume.
Royal Road is now engaged in a crowd-funding appeal in an attempt to raise two million dollars for post-production. At last report, they’ve received about a quarter of a million through Indygo, an organization rather like Kick Starter, and they have European donors waiting in the wings to provide matching funds. Assuming they get over the financial hurdles, they will face the problem of how to edit the film so that it will be reasonably true to Welles’s intentions. This will involve complicated narrative and aesthetic decisions. Peter Bogdanovich, who acted in the film and was present from its inception, will help supervise the editing. As I understand it, the footage is there, and in that sense the film is potentially “finished.” The trick is to assemble it. Continue reading