Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Orson Welles - The Immortal Story (1968)

“Welles was only in his early 50s when he made The Immortal Story for French television, but it appears as an almost too perfect summary of his career; a metaphorical tale of impotence, memory, power and mortality made on a tiny budget in Europe it both chases its own tail and is a deeply felt film of melancholy mood and sensibility. The film has the quality of a miniature; short in length and minimalist in design. It also appears depopulated, as if the product of a fragmented dream or imagination. Based on a short story by Isak Dinesen, The Immortal Story is a film of both embellishment and small detail, an intricate tale which relies upon the interlacing of experiences and memories (the adaptation of Dinesen's story resonates throughout the film, itself a tale of adaptation and corporeal embellishment). It is also a very concentrated and studied work that relies on the intensity of several of its dialogue sequences (especially the long, circular scene between Jeanne Moreau's Virginie and Roger Coggio's Levinsky). The film has a somnambulistic quality, beautifully rendered and intricately told, it is a world-weary work preoccupied with the exhaustion of narrative, storytelling and even the world itself. It is perhaps the most stately and reserved of Welles' films, the clipped piano music by Erik Satie giving it a feeling and sensibility closer in tone to Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975) than The Magnificent Ambersons…The ending of The Immortal Story is amongst the most beautiful and self-contained in all of Welles' cinema.” – Adrian Danks, Sense Of Cinema

English / French (Hardcoded Italian Subs)
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