Combustible Celluloid
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With: Orson Welles, Micheal MacLiammoir, Hilton Edwards
Written by: Orson Welles
Directed by: Orson Welles
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 84
Date: 07/10/1978

Filming Othello (1978)

4 Stars (out of 4)

To Die Upon a Kiss

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Apparently, Orson Welles suffered from financial troubles even on this simple essay film, shot mostly in and around his editing bay. He wanted to do something a bit more elaborate -- perhaps more like his previous film F for Fake -- but wound up with this interesting result instead. Welles spends 84 minutes talking about his great 1952 film Othello, how it came about, his thoughts on the play, reactions to the film, and lots of other stuff. He sometimes shows footage of the original film (without sound) under his narration. A highlight is a filmed dinner with himself, Micheal MacLiammoir (who played Iago) and Hilton Edwards (who played Brabantio). Welles concludes the dinner by explaining that they didn't run out of wine or things to say, but merely ran out of film. We also see footage of students asking questions after a screening of the original film. It's hard not to be moved by Welles' extraordinary storytelling or the slight wistful tone that creeps in; he explains that it's sad to talk about a film he's already made, but would much rather talk about the Othello he would yet make. "That Othello would be one hell of a picture," he says. Sadly, this was Welles' last completed, released film. He died in 1985.

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