The Portuguese colony of Macao in the 19th century. Mr. Clay is a very rich merchant and the subject of town gossip. He has spent many years in China and is now quite old. He likes his ... See full summary »
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Dolores del Rio
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Essay film shot for TV including Orson Welles reflections on Othello close to the Moviola, a chat with Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir and fragments of a conversation with the audience in Boston after a screening of the film.
The Portuguese colony of Macao in the 19th century. Mr. Clay is a very rich merchant and the subject of town gossip. He has spent many years in China and is now quite old. He likes his clerk Levinsky to read the company's accounts to him at night for relaxation. Tonight Mr. Clay recounts a true story he heard years before about a rich man who paid a poor sailor 5 guineas to father a child with his beautiful young wife. Levinsky says that's a popular old sailor's legend and not true. Mr. Clay has no heir for his fortune and no wife either. He resolves to make the story true... Levinsky approaches Virginie, another clerk's mistress, and strikes a bargain for 300 guineas. Now to find the sailor... Written by
Orson Welles originally planned for this film to be made as part of an anthology of adaptations of stories by Karen Blixen. Originally made for French TV, it was later released in theaters. This movie is available on DVD from The Criterion Collection. See more »
Paul, the sailor:
Old gentleman, will you remember to do something for me? She's got so many fine things, she would not care to have a lot of shells lying about. But, this one, is rare, I think. Perhaps there's not another one like it in all the world. It's as smooth and silky as her knee. And when you hold it to your ear, there is a sound to it. A song.
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A lonely old man wants to bring a story he has heard to life.
I just saw The Immortal story for the first time today thanks to TCM. I was impressed by the otherworldly quality of the film. Reading through the IMDb reviews I was surprised that no one speculated as to why Wells chose this story. To me the answer seems obvious. The film is about a lonely old man who wants to bring a story he has heard to life. He knows that he cannot accomplish the task alone so he turns to a minion in his employ to arrange the set piece and hire the players. Ironically even when he succeeds, it becomes clear that no one will ever hear the recounting of the story.
This is how Wells probably viewed his own life. Throughout his film career he struggled unhappily with his dependence on the help of producers and his need to control actors in order to bring his artistic visions to life. Sadly, even on the few occasions when he successfully got films completed, to him it seemed as if he never really had an audience.
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