Filming 'The Trial' (1981)

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Filming 'The Trial' (1981) Poster

After a screening of 'The Trial' at the University of Southern California, Welles discussed with the public and tried to answer their questions.



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3 February 2015 | Quinoa1984
| q & a with a funny-serious and really ego-free master
I'm not sure if Orson Welles meant for this film to be more like the 'Filming of Othello' that he made in the late 1970's, which featured almost all footage of the director talking about the process of making the film to no one in particular but the camera and footage. But it should be noted that this is a different sort of project (you can find it on Youtube, albeit it says it's "unedited", which may be the best we can get). It's presented far as I could see more like when Fritz Lang was interviewed by William Friedkin - it's a question and answer session shot on film, which means that every ten minutes (give or take a few seconds) the reels of film and sound have to be changed. So there are some breaks at times that can be a little jarring, especially in this case as a person may be asking a question, or Welles is answering it, and it's cut off.

But really, for the substance, this is a must watch for Welles fans and admirers of the Trial should check out. He's witty and serious, deadpan and charming, a raconteur and a straight-shooter. For a man who may be only known to some audiences today, unfortunately, for his outtakes of wine and frozen peas commercials, or for his problems with the studios and in taking quick projects to finance his (not all finished) independent productions, he's rather down to Earth and humble about his work. He is an artist and he lets you know it, but there's never a trace of there being much ego, and can even be self deprecating here and there, though about the Trial it's clear he is happy with the finished product (though, again his humble-ness and as with Othello, he says it's up to the critics to decide whether it's good or not).

There's stories about the casting, Perkins and his 'gay' characterization by critics, how the Salkinds (who later did Superman) got involved, and he can get into discussions about craft with clarity and decidedness. Kafka, of course, comes up quite a bit, as well as his style and what he thinks of 'Escapist' movies (oh if only he could see it today). The range of questions is fair for a Q&A - they range from thoughtful to surprising to a little long-winded and crazy (about him being constantly against corporations, that one gets lost), but Welles always manages to answer best he can, and he's having a good time with a frank and honest and sobering discussion about what it means to make a movie in all its terms. The filming conditions aren't totally ideal - the cuts make a good argument for why video is necessary for such LONG Q&A's, there's no need for artistry in such a setting on Gary Graver's part - but no matter.

Welles holds court, and is about the most interesting watch you can get with a master of the American (and world) cinema.

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