Orson Welles and I

Orson Welles and I
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Brief Synopsis:
I'm an obsessed Orson Welles fan (He's the greatest Director that ever lived after all), collecting all his films and re-buying them repeatedly when a better quality release comes along. So 2008's 'Orson Welles and I' sounded like a great idea. A film chronicling the final week that lead to his New York production of Caesar (A show that put him on the cover of Time). A staging with modern Fascistic dress and lit like the Nuremburg rally (A recent event in 1937), it was designed to take Shakespeare's play and fashion it into a warning about a world already slipping toward world war.

But while the scenes devoted to this play were perfection with Christian McKay delivering an astonishing performance as Welles, it was fatally flawed. Because about a third of the film was focused on a romance between two fictional characters played by Zac Efron and Claire Danes, that had nothing to do with the reality of the situation. So that Orson didn't even get top billing in a film about him!
It was my intention to make 'Me and Orson Welles' much closer to the kind of film a Welles fan like me would want to see. I've done this in three ways; Converting it to B&W as we never saw young Orson in colour, removing the romance subplot entirely and by slipping several Wellesian nods into the intro and outro of the edit. I've also added a 1937 newsreel as a prologue, to set the play in it's historical context.

The new title is of course in reference to the great 'Withnail and I'.
Additional Notes:
I've endevoured to compile a genorous and interesting collection of related DVD extras for Welles fans.
Other Sources:
'Me & Orson Welles' Blu-Ray
'Citizen Kane' Blu-Ray
Several Public Domain sources (Including Welles' 'The Hearts Of Age' short)
Special Thanks:
Thanks of course to Welles himself, to Director Richard Linklater for re-staging Caesar in such detail and to Rogue-theX for contributing a stunning widescreen RKO animation. Thanks also go to those that have offered feedback and suggestions in the thread.
Release Information:
  • DVD
  • Digital
Special Features
720x576 DVD9 / 1280x720 MP4

About 2 hours of extras included with the DVD and mp4:

'Sonja with a J': A 22 minute alternate story/deleted segment
Original rough 'Orson Welles & I' test trailer
'12 Films in 12 Minutes': A personal Welles retrospective
13 Minute extract from 'The Battle over citizen kane'
5 Minute 2012 interview with Norman Lloyd
5 minute interview with Richard Linklater
The Mercury Theatre on the Air: Julius Caesar 1938 rehearsal (Audio only 65 Minute Radio Show)
Editing Details:
- Film converted to aged B&W
- Richard's romance with Sonja (Claire Danes) has been entirely removed (Approx 25-30 mins of footage) hoever...
- A few shots of Sonja emain and she is refrenced by other characters by name (As are several background characters in the original film)
- All mentions of Richard's have been removed (The real guy was actually called Arthur), he is now just "I"
- Several scenes have been resequenced and drastically recut to change there meanings e.g.
- 'I' being fired after an argument with Orson has been replaced with 'I' quitting due to stage fright and pressure from his family
- 'I' being re-fired by Orson at the end has been removed
- A 1937 roundup newsreel has been cut together and now forms a pre-title introduction
- Several shots, images, logos, sounds and techniques from 'Citizen Kane' have been used at the start and end of the edit to evoke that masterpiece
- A real-life to film comparison has been added at the end for the principle players
- Welles' short film 'The Hearts Of Age' now plays beside the closing credits
- Not including the opening and closing portions, the film is about 70mins now (37mins-ish removed)
Cuts and Additions:
00.00.00 TM2YC Ident added
00.00.07 Looped projector footage added with sampled 8mm projector sound
00.00.08 Added 'News on the march' intro from 'Citizen Kane'
00.00.15 Created my own '1937 a year in Review' preface card
00.00.19 Inserted heavily edited and aged 7min vintage 1937 newsreel roundup with added TM2YC propaganda for the eagle eyed ;-) (Projection mockup)
00.00.24 Cuts to full frame of newsreel for next 7 mins
00.07.21 Back to looped projector footage
00.07.26 Added 'News on the march' outro from 'Citizen Kane'
00.07.28 Cuts to projection booth sequence from 'Citizen Kane' with added background noise
00.07.32 Part of Welles introduction to the 'Mercury Theatre on the Air' production of Caesar added
00.07.58 'Citizen Kane' footage cropped and edited to mimic delivery of Welles' words

00.08.09 'Blank widescreen RKO logo animation' added, created by the super talented Rogue-theX (With a new morse code message from me!)
00.08.12 RKO titles overlayed from 'Citizen Kane' Blu-Ray
00.08.23 'Me & Orson Welles' footage begins (Converted to aged B&W)
00.08.23 'A Mercury Production' titlecard from 'Citizen Kane' added
00.08.31 'Orson Welles & I' titlecard created to mimic style of 'Citizen Kane' titlecard
00.08.38 TM2YC titlecard added
00.08.44 Credits slightly trimmed
00.12.33 Removed several of Gretta's lines including the first naming of 'Richard'
00.13.14 Cropped shot to remove Sonja
00.17.16 Removed 6.5mins Richard spends with Sonja
00.17.41 Removed 30second scene with Sonja
00.24.36 Removed Sam naming Richard
00.26.02 Removed 3min scene of Joe discussing Sonja and brought CBS Radio scenes forward
00.26.20 Removed Sam naming Richard again
00.34.12 Removed 3min scene with Sonja and brought first half of 'arson' scene forward (So it flows out of the earlier CBS "Bad luck thing" dialogue)
00.34.25 Cut back to poet scene rehearsal
00.35.11 Cut to second half of 'arson' scene
00.38.49 Return to Richard's stage debut scenes
00.39.36 Removed 90second chat with Sonja
00.40.46 Moved 'bored in classroom' and 'Richard being told off by his mother' scenes to later in the edit
00.43.53 Removed Richard offering to pass Gretta's story to Sojnja
00.47.20 Removed Sonja's arrival
00.47.46 Removed Joe chatting up girl scene
00.48.09 Removed Richard talking to Sonja and cropped one shot
00.49.16 Removed 4min 'Night out with Sonja' scene
00.55.11 Removed Richard chatting to Sonja on the street
00.55.17 Cut in 'worried' reaction shot of Richard from later in the sequence
00.55.20 Cut in second 'worried' reaction shot of Richard
00.55.55 Cropped all shots of Orson talking to Richard to remove Sonja and recut sound and visuals
00.56.27 Removed Sonja telling Richard she is sleeping with Orson and chat with Joe
00.56.40 Removed Richard's argument with Orson scene plus cut in 'Richard being told off by his mother' scene
00.57.05 Cut in 'bored in classroom' scene
00.57.19 Cutaway with Richard still 'head in hands' (Was boredom now implied to be dispair)
00.57.19 Heavily edited version of 'Joe trying to talk Richard round' to remove references to the arguement
00.57.36 Drastically re-edited, re-sequenced and re-dubbed version of the 'Park bench' scene. It was about Orson saying sorry, it's now about Orson lifting Richard's spirits
00.59.47 Removed Shot of Richard getting a card from Orson
01.00.36 Removed Richard being named again and press photo
01.01.52 Added reaction shot of Richard to Orson giving same pep speech to George
01.14.07 Cut end of party scenes where Richard found out the truth and instead there is a long fade to the empty theatre scene
01.14.15 Drastically re-edited, re-sequenced and re-dubbed version of Richard farewll to Sonja so it's now a melancholy private moment reflecting on his experiences
01.14.29 Removed final 2min classroom speech scene
01.14.57 Removed a few shots from 'box of memories' scene to maintain continuity with the new story
01.15.28 Removed final naming of Richard
01.16.20 Removed reference to Sonja
01.16.36 Removed refrence to Gretta being there on opening night as this was both bizarre in the original cut and implies that this final scene is taking place much later in time than I want it to
01.18.42 Added overlayd 'The End' title from 'Citizen Kane'
01.18.47 Created moving shadow effect under title to mimic the lengthening of afternoon shadows as the film fades to black
01.18.56 Completely remaid cast list credits to showcase the real people versus the actors who played them
01.20.21 Added 8min 1934 Welles silent short 'The Hearts Of Age' to play oposit the credits and beyond
01.26.00 Added credit for Rogue-TheX's 'RKO Animation'
01.06.12 Film glides slowly from left to center
01.28.32 Specially created widescreen RKO end card added

FanEdit Length: 88 Minutes
Original Length: 114 Minutes
Time Added: 10 Minutes
Time Removed: 36 Minutes
Cover art by TM2YC (DOWNLOAD HERE) image

Orson Welles and I
(Password: fanedit.org)

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I had been hesitant to watch the original movie for a while, and I was excited to see this fanedit. Once I finally bought the original I sat down to watch it... and turned it off halfway through. Yeah, I could immediately see the potential for something better.

Thankfully, TM2YC's version is miles above the theatrical. He remind us that not every movie needs a Hollywood boy-meets-girl story for the sake of having it. The editing was perfect and the B&W looked excellent. And all the extras were icing on the cake. Highly recommended.

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Writing a review of this based solely on the fan-edit. I have not seen "Me & Orson Welles" so I have nothing to compare "Orson Welles & I" against:

The opening newsreel stuff feels interminable. Seven minutes? This may be "world building" but I would think that there has to be a better way to go about it. I desperately wanted to fast forward during this part but was afraid that there would be things in the newsreel that would come back later. The voice-over(s) do not sound authentic to me at all. The audio quality is too good for the picture quality that goes with them.

I'm sure we're to recall the opening of Kane with the screening room scene that follows but I'm not sure why the V.O. about Caesar is laid over it. Are the lips supposed to be synched with V.O.?

Once we get past the opening, things go very smoothly. Though Zac Efron is ostensibly our foil, he's very much a cypher, kind of like the reporter from Kane, though much more visible. I found myself not caring about his home life by any stretch nor about the girl from the music shop he kept running into. If this movie could be made without him altogether I would not weep.

Christian McKay plays a good Welles. I was thrown off at first by his mania and that "we're all so wacky because we're theater people" vibe through the first third of the film. Luckily, that calms down a bit as we see a little more of Welles's humanity.

I didn't notice anything missing from the film -- it all played smoothly and felt very natural. If I could make one suggestion it would be to remove the prologue completely.

Kudos to the editor.

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Owner's reply November 05, 2013

Glad you enjoyed it overall. :-)

I felt the 7 minute "Interminable" (LOL!) newsreel was important (To remind the viewer of the almost casual pre-war atmosphere that Orson hoped to shake up and the meaning of the play is only relevant to that time really) yet optional on further viewings. Which is why I put it pre-credits and pre-title. I thought I'd got the lip synching pretty close in the Kane scene... oh well, it was just meant as a little gag for the fans ;-)

If you thought it played "Smooth" and "Natural" with "Nothing" noticable missing, then I'm very pleased! Because there is a hell of a lot removed, cut and reordered. In a couple of scenes there is hardly a shot in the same place ;-)

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