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ISOLATION THEATRE: They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead Is A Depressing Look At The End Of The Great Orson Welles’ Life And Career


About The Life Of Screen Legend Orson Welles

Directed by Morgan Neville

REVIEW: By R. Paul Dhillon

I’m finally getting around to watching Netflix but there’s a lot of stuff there that I don’t particularly want to watch. So I had to do a lot of search to find something that interests me.

I wanted to watch the documentary called De Palma, on one of my favorite directors Brian De Palma - the man behind such classics as Scarface and The Untouchables. But apparently this film is not offered to Canadian Netflix subscribers - WTF?

So that brought me to watching They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, chronicling the life of legendary actor-director Orson Welles, who gave cinema the groundbreaking masterpiece Citizen Kane.

The documentary They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead looks at Welles' life during his sad last years and his attempt to make a bizarre or avant--garde Film The Other Side of the Wind. It was really a sad final chapter in the life of one of the greatest actors-filmmakers.

The Documentary shows Welles, having been cast out by the Hollywood studios for not making commercial pictures, returns to Hollywood to make his final magnum-opus about an aging director who’s showcasing his new film by throwing a party for his friends from the film fraternity.

The film was meant to be a cross between documentary and drama - Welles claimed at the time that a film like this has never been made - he was known to be verbose but the film never really get done by the time he died in 1985. This after he spent almost 5 years of production and most of the 1970s trying to finish it but ultimately he gave up and the film negative was locked up in Paris over the legal wrangling as with the financiers which included the former Shah of Iran before he was overthrown. The film was eventually finished by his friends and collaborators including cinematographer Gary Graver and renowned American filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show).

The documentary They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead and the eventually finished Film of The Other Side of the Wind are really sad reminders of a great film talent. I couldn’t really watch the awful spectacle of The Other Side of the Wind and had to fast forward it to watch the more cinematic parts as it was painful given that this was from the same man who gave us Citizen Kane and The Stranger.

For me, watching both films was depressing. A great sadness came over me to see the end of a Genius and final chapter for that doesn’t do justice to Welles enormous contributions to world cinema. I was introduced to Welles’ work at my SFU Film class with the mesmerizing The Third Man, where Welles takes over when he enters the film. I wanted to remember him from The Third Man and Citizen Kane, which also part of our viewing at SFU Film School. You will always be loved - Rosebud!!!

R. Paul Dhillon is an award winning journalist and filmmaker with over 40 production credits on documentaries and feature films. His recent feature romantic comedy THE FUSION GENERATION was released in Canadian theatres in August 2019.His new feature documentary GONE ARE THE DAYS, chronicling institutional racism in Canada, won the Runner-Up Best Film Award at the Jaipur International Film Festival in January 2020 as well as being Recognized at the IMPACT DOCS AWARDS.

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