Re: It's All True - Orson Welles on the film

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Posted by Joe Biroc on July 24, 2001 at 23:21:15:

In Reply to: Re: It's All True posted by Antonio Ferrera on July 23, 2001 at 12:39:51:

Here's Welles on IT'S ALL TRUE, from the
Orson Welles sketchbook

WELLES: ...we were down (in Brazil)making a documentary film, partly for the government, but mostly for a Hollywood studio, this was at the time of the Good Neighbor Policy and it was my task to make a large, Technicolor documentary on the subject of the carnival. And so we took up the whole question of samba, and the samba orchestra, and when I'd nearly finished the film, it occurred to me that the origins of samba lay in voodoo ceremonies, particularly in shangu which are practiced up in the favelas, those strange native settlements on the mountains which are right in the midst of the city of Rio. And so I arranged with a good deal of difficulty to film a voodoo ceremony. And, we had protracted conversations with the head of the group, this doctor whose sketch I've shown you, and an advanced payment was arranged for, and he came to my office in Rio to discuss it.
And it was my unhappy lot to have to tell him that the filming was off because I had just received word, from Hollywood, that the president of the film studio had been removed, (that sort of thing happens not only in South American governments, but also in film studios) He had been rather abruptly removed, a new president was in his place, and the entire project was off, there was no more money to spend on voodoo ceremonies.
And the witch doctor assured me that this was deeply offensive, and that he and his group took it very badly, and I said I was most sorry about it myself, and I did want to finish the film, I did hope he understood. Ah, but he said, we have spent money. We have bought entirely new costumes. And I said, well I'm awfully sorry, but there just isn't any money from Hollywood to pay you. And I don't know how I can explain to this new administration that the voodoo ceremony must continue. Certainly not in the time already agreed on. And I was called away to the telephone again, and left the doctor in my office. Had a long conversation on the phone, begging and pleading to be allowed to finish this picture, which we rather liked, the material was very interesting, and I thought it would be good thing to finish, since so much effort had gone into it, and I was pleading my cause for some time, praying that we would be able to, and I came back to the office to find that the doctor had gone, having been told that the deal was completely off, and on my desk…in a script of the film…was a long steel needle. It had been driven entirely through the script. And to the needle was attached a length of red wool. This was the mark of the voodoo. And the end of that story is that it was the end of the film. We were never allowed to finish it.

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