The Eyes of Orson Welles review – devoted documentary on director as artist | Documentary films

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Mark Cousins’s charming essay film is named The Eyes of Orson Welles, though a more fitting title might be Dear Orson Welles. A series of fawning love letters from Cousins to the actor-director delivered in five chapters, it explores Welles’s life, loves, philosophies and films through his hundreds of sketches, paintings and graphic charcoal drawings. Cousins’ distinctive voiceover alternates between asking Welles about the workings of his mind and delivering news from the future: a changed New York, the invention of the internet, “a guy who thinks he’s Charles Foster Kane” in the White House; in one chapter, he imagines Welles writing back.

Cousins’s own eye is as attentive as a lover’s, zeroing in on Welles’s use of lines and space. He calls him “the greatest film-maker ever of looking upwards”, noticing how he enjoyed making actors “swirl” around his sets, and the number of X’s at the bottom of his letters; how in The Lady from Shanghai (1947), the camera hovers over Rita Hayworth from the point of view of a kiss. He identifies Welles as “the king, forced to abdicate”. His close readings of the artworks are mostly convincing, though some may find his earnestness grating.

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Source: The Guardian
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