Mark Cousins (director)
110 min (length)
17 August 2018 (released)
04 July 2018
Written and directed by Mark Cousins, The Eyes of Orson Welles unveils the many drawings and paintings of Orson Welles. Most of those have never been revealed to the public, having been boxed away. This documentary gives a different perspective to the mind and artistic genius of Orson Welles.
Mark Cousins chose to articulate his documentary around different themes, narrating the story as if he was writing a long letter to Welles. Traveling to the places that were dear to the latter director, for various reasons, Cousins embarks on a journey to try and decipher those paintings and drawings.
He meets Beatrice, Welles’s third daughter, and discuss briefly with her about her father’s work. He also imagines that Welles replies to his letter, turning him into his pen pal from beyond.
The Eyes of Orson Welles is quite a long documentary: 2 hours. The format of having just the director narrating and reading a letter he would write to Welles feels like the audience is excluded. Cousins seems to be after a personal quest to feel his own personal burning interrogations.
The director keeps trying to draw links between Welles’ life and his artwork, never bringing evidence that his assumptions are anywhere near the truth. There might also be a good reason why the public has never been shown those drawings and paintings: maybe Welles, being a perfectionist and somewhat a control freak, didn’t think they were worth sharing. Maybe these were his own personal bubble where he could express himself freely, without thinking of what others might say.
During his interrogations, Cousins keeps coming back to the same picture of Orson Welles, which feels repetitive. Going over Welles’s career and life, some areas and/or stories could have been developed in more depth.
If you want to expose some never before seen art, by a well-loved and admired artist, you should do it in a way that is exhilarating and exciting for the audience.
This documentary felt unnecessary long, weirdly intrusive and like a missed opportunity.