Lost and Found

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It’s All True

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Mar 26, 2015

The documentary section capably conveys the standard idea of the Welles tragedy, which is strengthened by the master’s presence, completely hypnotic and raconteuring and very sad, it sketches the possible political reasons for the debacle (racism–same as Eisenstein, which this compositionally resembles all over the place?), the samba idea is intriguing if muddled; the real significance gets hinted at with the “Bonito” material, which looks like “Que Viva…”, and when the “studio executive” tells us how he found the Bonito and Brazil cans and knew immediately who had directed them–“It was Orson Welles”–the heart leaps strangely, hoping against hope; then, against that sad hope, there it is: a very major piece of work, a new movie from Welles at his prime, which starts like a Flaherty film (and never surpasses that section), lingering, detailed, affectionate attention to pre-industrial process, with boards planed and boats built and baskets woven with almost unknowing artistry, from here all through it’s the incidentals that most fascinate and move, the narrative itself is choppy, maybe only coherent because we’ve heard about it before–which brings us to a flaw, as we’re not told whether this was cut from Welles’ notes, and how detaisled these might have been, and how the sound came about, sound which works very well, with charming music and Man of Aran-like sound effects, which aren’t so much congruent as complementarily montage-like–the very sappy love interest works beautifully because of the very beautiful subjects (especially that 13 year old!), which reminds one that the use of subjects and locations is very much a neo-realist looking thing, meaning some of the same shortcomings and most of the same advantages (unlike H-wood’s adaptation of its innovations, this neo-realism never makes the people peripheral), the wedding’s nice, the discovery of the body by the spectacular little girl is wrenching, and the funeral’s fine ponderous Ivan the Terrible/Othello type formalism, after that there’s really only the superbly composed images, which, after all these years, is quite sufficient