Based on Isak Dinesen’s tale, Orson Welles’ The Immortal Story is a tense Tales Of The Unexpected-style drama which sees Jeanne Moreau star as a woman hired to sleep with a sailor in order to satisfy the whim of a rich shipping merchant. Shot in a dreamlike verite, Welles’ film pushes boundaries with storytelling and themes. It’s unconventional editing gives it a strong European theme and it’s another reminder of Welles’ power in front of and behind the camera.
This film from 1968 is 60 minute long curio that sees Welles play a dying shipping magnate who wants to make an old sailor urban myth a reality. There’s a dream-like feeling to this tale, a yarn lost in the mists of time and memory. Only Welles could deliver a film that feels so alien and bold. He was never meant to be a Hollywood filmmaker, he was always a European auteur caught in the body of a US star.
Orson Welles was a true master of cinema. He was a larger than life character who lived for film. Welles was a cinematic savant, a man who organically knew the language of the medium. After a career on the stage and radio, he exploded onto the film scene in 1941 with Citizen Kane. It’s widely regarded as the greatest film ever made – and rightly so. The filmmaker was a Quixote-type character, always chasing the next movie, the next dream. Hollywood shunned him as his tastes became less commercial and he was forced to turn to Europe to fund his projects. He would borrow and scrape together funding in order to raise the cash to make his next film. Sometimes money would dry up and he’d be forced to move on, often returning to a project after several years to complete it.
The Immortal Story is short but bold, a refreshing drama that once again shows Orson Welles’ strengths as a storyteller.