Not a lawyer, my guess is that Beatrice Welles' claims are predicated on rather recent laws which protect the estates of celebrities from a trademark standpoint. In other words, certain figures, say, Marilyn Monroe or John Wayne, exist as icons which are recognized worldwide. To take Miss Monroe's image and put it on a doormat, or Wayne's on a button next to Osama bin Laden, would violate the image, reputation, and commercial value of the tradmark.
"Orson Welles," in the view of Beatrice Welles' attornies, may approach that status. If that status has reached legal standing, any subsequent change in Welles' image as it exists within extant works by others could be argued a violation of trademark. On one level, we might agree, but if the legal threats are only to squeeze income from Welles' memory, it is rather sad -- commonly sad in America today, I'm afraid.
As for THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, I think the key to the editing comes down to the title itself. The questions are: What is "this side" of the Wind? What is "the other side" of the Wind? And what is the Wind itself?
In my view, one side of the wind is reality, and the other side is imagination. And the Wind is a divine or ironic one. That's where a narrator, playing God, would have come in. I think that idea would have appealed to Welles, as it would have to John Huston.
Having seen some of the footage discussed, I agree with those who would like to see produced the best version possible of the film Welles' shot, according to his concept. We have the script, and we know that Bogdanovich was privy through discussions, from Day One, about what the film concerned, and how it should generally be edited. Whether Bogdanovich does the actual editing or not, I think he should be in close consultation.
To me, "the other side of the wind" is a metaphor for life, the difference between reality and imagination, the corrupt and the devine, the prosaic and the profound -- in terms of the material, the difference between the reality of old Auteur Director Hannaford's life and milieux compared with his attempt to recapture his youth, inspiration, and manhood through the movie he has just finished shooting, a self-revealing mess which defeats the old man's attempts to interpret it and leads him to his suicide.
Hannaford has lost his reputation, his control, his abilities, his grip on a sense of youth, and all those losses suggest. If realized anywhere near the possibilities of the conception, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND might approach a universal truth. Life after a certain point is a process of transformation and loss.
I think it might be as simple and as complex as that.
If you would indulge my presumption, in my imagining, I would employ a "chinese box" technique -- i.e., a box within a box within a box. We would begin in the present with a new narrator, a producer trying to put together Great Jake Hannaford's last "unfinished" masterpiece, who would speak of the reputation of Hannaford, and would continue throughout the film, commenting wherever necessary -- being the 21st Century God. Augmented by the narration of Welles (the 20th Century's God) wherever possible, the reality of Hannaford's existence, starting with his burnt out coffin (the sports car) would present on the last day of his life. This riotous carnival would be punctuated by swift, sometimes almost subliminal, dream-like shots of his "lost" youth in the form of the film he was making. The whole rhythm and pace of the film would rise to the all-inclusive level of tragedy, absurdity and banality.
Hannaford's presence, the hangers on, the chattering of the critics and other directors, the commercial worries of the studio, the frustrations of those still loyal to him, the insecurities of the talent, the ambitions of his latest "discovery," and the ravenous rebelliousness of the new young gods, would all be shown in quick parallel and multiple images against that matrix of Hannaford's last day on earth.
Those who have seen portions of the footage will recognize that there is a great amount of repetition in the action, shown not only in the different camera angles and shot variation, which would be expected, but in considerable use of different color stock and tinting. [Some insist that this material is only evidence of poverty of means or carelessnes, but what if it is not?] We know that a use of different cameras and film millimeter was intended on Welles' part. But the side-by-side quality of some sequences available suggests an attempt to reproduce "a positive and negative" for "the wrap" of Jake Hannaford's life.
No doubt some sequences were intended to be seen from different points of view. Here, to me, is a clue that Welles intended to contrast Reality with Art, in an a surrealistic way. For instance, in the almost famous (by now) car seduction and humiliation of Johnny Dale by the Roma girl (Oja Kodar) playing a Native American (or vice verse), we note that sometimes she is "fully" clothed and other times virtually naked. I believe that the contrast was intended to represent the difference between the raw, cross-purposed nature of a sexual encounter (reality) and the carefully lit and staged reproduction of passion in imagination or art.
Given a matrix of reality, Hannaford's last day, his final film would be a commentary on his loss. I doubt that "50 percent" of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND would be made up of that material, but with lightnine edits, a good deal more than we might at first imagine could be legitimately utilized.
It all depends upon which side of the wind you find yourself.
I'll return the discussion to professionals like Todd Baesen. :laugh: