Orson Welles' unfinished final 'masterpiece' to be released for centenary

The Other Side of the Wind has been described as 'art imitating life and life imitating art'

Orson Welles’ final film, which has been left unfinished for four decades, could finally reach cinemas next year, in time for the 100th anniversary of the filmmaker’s birth next May.

Welles worked obsessively for the last 15 years of his life on The Other Side of the Wind, which chronicles a temperamental film director, like himself, who battles with the Hollywood establishment to complete an iconoclastic work.

Since Welles’ death in 1985, the unfinished film, which stars John Huston, Susan Strasberg, Dennis Hopper and Peter Bogdanovich, has been tied up in legal battles between Welles’ daughter Beatrice and a number of other parties. Cinema buffs consider it the most famous film never released.

Now Royal Road Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based company, has secured the rights and plans to bring it to the American Film Market event next month to secure a distribution deal.

Welles had clashed with investors and managed to smuggle his print out of Paris in 1975 in a van before shipping his 45 minutes of edited work to California. The finished film will be assembled from unfinished scenes and notes left by Welles. The reels were discovered in excellent condition.

“This is like finding the Land of Oz or some lost tomb,” Josh Karp, the author of a new book about the film told the New York Times. “This film is art imitating life and life imitating art. It’s become so mythical because of what happened with all the failures to finish it and the players involved.”

Filmed “guerrilla” style on a low budget, Welles supplied his own Citizen Kane Oscar statuette, for his main character to brandish in the film.

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