Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Welles in Brazil

An idea for a film… Opening sequence. Exterior, day. Low angle shot of an empty hotel plaza, a patch of exotic flowers ripple in the light breeze, the sound of cicadas singing in the midday sun. Shot is held for 40 seconds - an interminable amount of time, before the stillness is suddenly shattered by the crash of furniture and shards of glass onto the pavement, evidently thrown from a great height. Cut to interior shot, hotel room. A tall, powerfully built man dressed in an all-white suit is tearing up the fixtures and fittings in a rage. Once the room has been relieved of its contents, the man gazes out the shattered window frame, pauses, then erupts into deep sonorous laughter. The man is Orson Welles. Cut to POV shot of the sprawling skyline of Rio de Janeiro, cue raucous samba music on the soundtrack, credits begin….

I’m currently ensconced in the 2nd volume of Simon Callow’s Orson Welles biography and reading the chapter on Welles’ anarchic 1942 trip to Brazil to make his ambitious Pan-American film, I couldn’t help but think it would make for a rollicking great film. Welles discarding the shooting script to improvise scenes at the carnival and the favelas much to the chagrin of RKO, and the embittered film unit laid up for days on end as Welles soaks up Brazilian culture, bullfighting and women. Throw into the plot a villain by the name of Lynn Shores, an RKO stooge with a personal dislike for Welles (a kind of Marlowe to Welles’ Kurtz) trying to sabotage the project with lies and intrigue, and a subplot about the death by a thousand cuts of The Magnificent Ambersons at the hands of an unsympathetic studio. Fishing around for titles, I’ve settled upon Welles' radio sign-off Obediently Yours… The kickstarter fund begins here !

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