The Other Side of the Wind

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Other Side of the Wind Movie Poster Image
Welles' chaotic final film has lots of drinking, some sex.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 122 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages. A satire of Hollywood and "Hollywood types," as well as a parody of the cinematic styles of the 1960s and '70s.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The lead character, an iconic director, binge-drinks throughout the movie, is romantically involved with a young woman at least 50 years younger than he is, and commits suicide after his 70th birthday party and screening of his latest work in progress. 

Violence

Mention made of how the movie is a "documentary" of the last night of an iconic film director on the occasion of his 70th birthday party and screening of his latest work in progress. Man slaps a woman, knocking her over. Two of the lead characters shoot dummies with a rifle. Talk of suicide, attempted suicide. 

Sex

Female nudity in various scenes -- breasts, buttocks, full-frontal. Extended sex scene in a moving car -- woman straddles a man in the passenger seat. Oral sex insinuation. 

Language

"Motherf--ker" once. Occasional profanity: "a--hole," "s--t," "piss," "Jesus." Homosexual slurs used. Lead character uses a series of racial slurs in reference to African Americans, Hispanics, Irish Americans, Jews, and white people. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The movie centers on the 70th birthday party of an iconic film director. Characters drink to excess, become extremely drunk. Lead character is never without a glass of alcohol and a cigar. Marijuana smoking. Cigarette smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Other Side of the Wind is a 2018 drama-satire that is Orson Welles' final film. It was filmed in the 1970s and posthumously edited into a movie decades later. The film centers on the 70th birthday party of an iconic film director, and as such, expect a lot of excessive drinking, as well as marijuana and cigarette smoking. The lead character is usually smoking a cigar. Female nudity in various scenes -- breasts, buttocks, full-frontal. Extended sex scene in a moving car -- woman straddles a man in the passenger seat. Oral sex insinuation. The lead character is in a relationship with a teenage girl. Profanity includes "motherf--ker," "a--hole," "s--t," "piss," "Jesus." Homosexual slurs used. Lead character uses a series of racial slurs in reference to African Americans, Hispanics, Irish Americans, Jews, and white people. A man slaps a woman, knocking her over. Talk of suicide. Two drunk characters shoot dummies set up on rocks.

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What's the story?

After two decades in exile, iconic film director Jake Hannaford (John Huston) has returned to Hollywood. He's trying to complete his final movie, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, but is struggling to raise the funds necessary to finance its completion. A long-time friend plays hostess for Hannaford's gala 70th birthday party, a chance for Hannaford to show the Hollywood movers and shakers a sample of the work in progress as a desperate attempt to secure the production money. The party is a who's-who of Tinseltown luminaries, including Brooks Otterlake (Peter Bogdanovich), a young Hannaford acolyte who has recently achieved tremendous success in his own right as a groundbreaking director, and Julie Rich (Susan Strasberg), a film critic who seems to enjoy needling Hannaford every chance she gets. Through the perspective of the partygoers, the conversations -- increasingly animated and drunken -- center on their opinions of the myth of Jake Hannaford and his relevance in an industry being taken over by a younger generation. Hannaford himself, through drunken witticisms and bitter lamentations, pokes fun at and takes stock of his legacy and reputation while confronting his masculinity and mortality. 

Is it any good?

Orson Welles' final film defies categorization. Uncompleted in his lifetime, The Other Side of the Wind is, by turns, a dark satire of Hollywood and "Hollywood types," a parody of the arthouse cinema of the early 1970s (Antonioni in particular), a bitter meditation on aging, barely-veiled autobiography, and a tragicomic skewering of the macho-masculine personas who seems to want to cling to their youth and virility at all costs. A "documentary" told through rapid-fire acid-tongued dialogue like a 1970s Algonquin Roundtable done up in suede-denim, these bon mots are paired with frenzied split-second edits. The style might be too much for viewers not ready for Orson Welles' dalliance with psychedelia. However, for those willing to get into the spirit of the thing, the rewards are many.

John Huston, as the Hemingway-esque iconic director Jake Hannaford, is magnificent as a flawed genius who seems to be having as much fun poking fun at the myth of his outsized persona as the partygoers who are so in awe of him even as they question his current relevance. Peter Bagdonovich is a good sport and a true friend to play such an obvious self-parody. Susan Strasberg does a mean Pauline Kael. You can guess Dennis Hoppers' state of mind in his cameo. Ironically enough, Rich Little seems to be the only one who isn't engaged in an overt imitation of himself or anyone else. Again, this isn't for everybody, and definitely not the best introduction to the Orson Welles filmography, but it's much better than the film buff curio it might have ended up with less capable editors. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about satire and parody. How did tThe Other Side of the Wind use humor to make serious points and criticisms of individuals, film styles, Hollywood? 

  • Orson Welles, the film's director, died before its completion. Decades later, a team of skilled editors used Welles' extensive notes to edit down 100 hours of footage into this movie. What would be some of the challenges these editors faced in taking on this project? 

  • What are some of the ways in which the movie attempts to express the styles and attitudes of the culture in the years the movie was filmed? 

Movie details

For kids who love classics

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