It is quite remarkable that other than Peter Bogdanovichs indispensable interview book, This Is Orson Welles, there were so few important English language interviews done with Welles during his lifetime. Admittedly, Welles was often not on American soil when a film like Mr. Arkadin came out, but it would seem like some enterprising entertainment reporters might have tried a bit harder to corral Welles, especially when his final completed film, F For Fake, was released in 1977. In retrospect, F For Fake had probably the least amount of Welles comments in print, than any other, even than a film like Mr. Arkadin that he didnt care to talk about. So we can be thankful that Welles talked with such great enthusiasm to Cahiers du Cinema and all the other European magazines, where he was treated with the intelligence and respect he deserved. In America, Welles seemed to be relegated to doing magic tricks on Johnny Carsons talk show, instead of talking about his work, but even those appearances where done with the élan of a master magician. At any rate, several of Welles best interviews where given to Cahiers du Cinema, and below I have combined Welles fairly extensive comments on Mr. Arkadin from two different 1958 Cahiers interviews, so it reads as one comprehensive whole.
Interview conducted by
Andre Bazin, Charles Bitsch and Jean Domarchi
CAHIERS: While speaking of Mr. Arkadin Herman G. Weinberg said, "In Orson Welles' films, the spectator may not sit back in his seat and relax; on the contrary, he must meet the film at least half-way in order to decipher what is happening, practically every second; if not, everything is lost."
ORSON WELLES: All my films are like that. There are certain cineastes, excellent ones, who present everything so explicitly, so clearly, that in spite of the great visual power contained in their films one follows them effortlesslyI refer only to the narrative thread. I am fully aware that, in my films, I demand a very specific interest on the part of the public. Without that attention, it is lost. (more...)