#justwatched Orson Welles' 'The Immortal Story' from 1968. At 58 minutes long, this is Welles' shortest feature (does that even count as a feature?) Furthermore, it is Welles' only narrative film shot in colour (does 'F For Fake' count as narrative?) Based on a short story by Karen Blixen, the Danish writer who also wrote 'Babette's Feast', this was originally made-for-TV before later being released to theatres. So whatever is said about our currently being in a golden-age of television, let’s keep in mind that Orson Welles already did it.
Set in Macau, but filmed in and around Madrid – specifically using Welles’ own house as the primary location – the film focuses on an elderly, rich merchant, played by Welles, who has absolutely no imagination and only believes in facts. As such, he is shocked to learn that the only story with which he is familiar – and which he believes to be true - is widely known and very much considered to be a baseless legend. As such, he sets about recreating it so that it will have actually happened to someone. I’ve leave the particulars of the story aside at this moment.
#firstreactions – this is such an unusual film, even by Welles’ standards. It has a very unsettling tone, not creepy but more so a sense of constant uncertainty. The idea of playacting is balanced with a sense of resignation – indeed, the fact that characters have no other option is regularly reinforced throughout the film. The use of avant-garde Erik Satie piano pieces throughout doesn’t mitigate this. The directing and cinematographer is mostly great, as you would expect, though there is some sloppy editing, especially towards the beginning, and the film does occasionally fall back into a rote shot-reverse shot pattern which is unusual for Welles. Though he reportedly hated colour, this film makes great use of it – the interior production design is outstanding, and there is an expressive use of coloured lights; it’s one step away from being a Mario Bava picture. [more in the comments]
#orsonwelles #JeanneMoreau #theimmortalstory #criterioncollection @criterioncollection #karenblixen #eriksatie