Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (2014)

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (2014) movie poster

director Chuck Workman
viewed: 01/04/2015

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles approaches Welles’s life and work in segments, chapters, and told through interviews, archival and new, film clips, and film references, with occasional screen text, but no narration.  With a brief bit about his childhood, it tells of Welles’s education, forays into theater, radio, and ultimately into film, his one true love, the one that would be so relatively cruel in return.

His failures in Hollywood pushed him into Europe and independent financing.  Richard Linklater appears, referring to him as the “patron saint of Independent filmmaking.”  To my mind, he’s the patron saint of cinema in general.

Chuck Workman’s film has its merits, hits the majority of the story, covers briefly at least each major work of the man, interviews family, friends, lovers, and many heavily influenced directors including Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin, and Henry Jaglom as well as such oddities as Wolfgang Puck.

But it’s also a bit of a munge at times, cutting to films portraying Welles like Ed Wood (1994) in ways that are somewhat confusing.  I’d not loved Workman’s earlier film about the Beat Generation, The Source (1999), which was less conventional (but perhaps equally a mixed effort.)

It did reinforce my desire to see Welles’s films that I have not seen as yet, so there is that.


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