48 Years in the Making, Orson Welles' Unfinished Masterpiece is Now on Netflix

48 Years in the Making, Orson Welles' Unfinished Masterpiece is Now on Netflix
Image credit: Netflix, Legion-Media

The last movie from the legendary auteur.


  • In 2018, The Other Side of the Wind was released on Netflix.
  • It was Orson Welles' last project, released 30 years after his death.
  • Critics consider the film a masterpiece, though audiences have more polarized opinions.

There have been countless attempts to make a movie that would make sense of the phenomenon of filmmaking as such. Think, for example, of Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Birdman, which is an attempt to reflect on acting and the sources of its inspiration in the context of both great cinema and the great stage. Another example would be Wes Anderson's recent Asteroid City, which is no less an exploration of loneliness, the search for inspiration, and the life journey of the creator as such. But none of them will ever come close to what Hollywood legend Orson Welles, director of Citizen Kane, once set out to do.

In 1970, eager to make a Hollywood comeback, the famous auteur set out to make The Other Side of the Wind. Welles himself cited the life journey of his friend Ernest Hemingway as inspiration. Others believed it was the filmmaker's own reflection on his career. The most remarkable aspect of the film, however, is that it took over half a century to make, and Welles' own life.

With The Other Side of the Wind available on Netflix, why not tackle the legendary director's final film?

Poignant Satire with Nearly 50 Years in the Making

The Other Side of the Wind tells the story of the last day in the life of an aging and once popular Hollywood director known for his flamboyance and machismo. Unfortunately, he is now disgraced, half-forgotten, and associated with scandals and seducing the male leads of his films. The film was both a satire of classic Hollywood and the avant-garde, and perhaps a melancholy self-reflection on his own oblivion and exploration of Welles' own sexuality.

Unfortunately, the movie was never completed during Welles' lifetime. It only became possible after Netflix got involved with the project in 2015, greenlighting it and releasing it on its own platform.

Rave Reviews from Critics, Mixed Reviews from Audiences

On Rotten Tomatoes, the critics' score for the movie is an impressive 83%. Many have rightly noted that The Other Side of the Wind, while not the finest example of Welles' work, is a daring piece of art that is a love-hate ode to himself, classic 20th century Hollywood, the French New Wave of Jean-Luc Godard and the art cinema of Michelangelo Antonioni. But as Roger Moore of Movie Nation noted, the movie turned out to be 'a fascinating artifact. Nothing more,' and that is probably the best description.

For all of Orson Welles' greatness as a filmmaker, The Other Side of the Wind doesn't seem incredibly relevant in 2024. However, filmmakers (and all other artists of the last century) have one notable and not at all honorable trait: they are incredibly self-absorbed, forgetting that other people exist and that society doesn't stand still. Although the plot was developed by Welles in 1970, the entire movie is based solely on his unflattering ideas about other filmmakers, as well as lament over his lack of understanding of his own sexuality.

As a result, The Other Side of the Wind is a rather personal, self-indulgent movie that would have failed miserably had it come from the pen of a lesser-known filmmaker. Unfortunately, its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes was only 59%. Despite Orson Welles' legendary status, witty references to 20th century pop culture, and gorgeous cinematography, the movie is unlikely to be everyone's cup of tea.

Source: Movie Nation.