|This thriller was filmed
off the Dalmatian coast of Yugoslavia on two separate yachts, between 1966
and 1969 and was very close to being completed. However, Welles reportedly
needed to shoot a spectacular explosion on a becalmed yacht to finish the
film, and as time went by, he appears to have lost interest in the film,
since he never post-synced much of Jeanne Moreau's dialogue. At a press
conference at the 2000 Berlin Festival, Moreau commented on The Deep,
saying "it was a fantastic experience working with Welles. My relationship
with Orson was, as usual, incredible. The only disastrous thing was that
later on, the film disappeared." According to Moreau, Welles would
also sometimes disappear when he was having problems financing the movie.
"He was very fragile and could be self-destructive," said Moreau.
"One time there was no news of where Orson was, and I was staying on
the fifth floor of our hotel. Above me, was a huge suite where Orson stayed.
While I was sitting out on the terrace watching the view, I could see big
lumps of cigar ash falling down, so I knew he was up there smoking away."
In 1973 Laurence Harvey died, making the films
completion even more problematic. Later the film negative was lost, leaving
only two work print copies, one in color, the other in black-and-white.
These two work prints provided the basis for the present version of the
film, partially restored by the Munich Film Museum. In some sequences
there are missing shots and in others camera noise can be heard on the
soundtrack. Welles has also occasionally dubbed in both Laurence Harvey
and Michael Bryant voices on the soundtrack.
|During his attempts to finish the
film, Welles prepared several trailers and short assemblies of footage.
In one case, he provided his own voice over narration describing scenes
from the film, which he sent on to Charlton Heston, who was going to re-voice
the final narration:
The scene here (a fire on board a yacht, causing a torrent of billowing smoke), might be useful for the end of your voice-over narration - actually the fire comes at the end of the picture.
We're out in the Atlantic Ocean. A newly wedded couple (Oja Kodar and Michael Bryant) are here on their small yacht (the Saracen), cruising up the west coast of Africa to the Mediterranean. Not a breath of air, so they're becalmed. To save gas, they're not using their auxiliary engine. Out in these waters they might expect to be very much alone. But there's someone else out there - another boat. Somebody is rowing over to them (in a dingy). The stranger (Lawrence Harvey) has a very strange tale to tell. He is alone - everyone else on that boat of his is dead.
(On screen we see a series of shots that show Johnny, the owner of the Saracen, getting into the stranger's dingy and rowing over to his disabled boat and climbing aboard, where he meets a man below deck who starts to attack him (Welles). Then Johnny hears his name being called by his wife - the stranger has overpowered her, started the engine of the Saracen and is sailing away).
Trapped there on a boat that's taking on water fast, and his young wife trapped on their boat - with a raving maniac. What happens next...
Well, we'll have to leave that to the ticket
|Stefan Droessler, director of the
Munich Film Museum notes that The Deep will never be seen in the
exact form intended by Welles, and in putting the existing material of the
film together he was often guessing at how best to proceed. Droessler hopes
to finish the film in one of two ways: First, by shortening the film in
some places and adding sub-titles where there was no dubbing for the actor's
voices, and adding a music score to the film. The second option would be
to make a documentary about the production history of the movie, similar
to what was done with It's All True, which would incorporate all
of Welles footage from The Deep within the documentary.
During the screening of The Deep shown at the Mannheimer conference it was apparent that many of the scenes had an amusing undertone to them, and Oja Kodar was pleased to note that the audience was laughing in all the right places. Kodar eventually sold the rights to the novel that The Deep was based on, and a subsequent version of the story, entitled Dead Calm, was made by director Phillip Noyce in Australia, starring Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill and Billy Zane. It was released in 1989 by Warner Bros. and was a modest box-office success.
An Interview With Willy Kurant:
You worked with Orson Welles on The Immortal Story (1968) and later on The Deep (1970), which he didn't finish. How did that relationship begin?
WILLY KURANT: I knew Orson Welles was going to do a color movie co-produced by French TV. In my wildest dream, I never thought that I would have an opportunity to work with him. Then, one day I had a phone call and the producer asked if I could come in for an interview. I met Orson Welles at the Hotel Raphael very late at night. He was wearing pink pajamas and smoking a big cigar. My English was not the best, but it was okay. He asked how I would do this movie in 28 days? I asked a few questions, and told him that since television doesn't transmit contrast very well, I would concentrate on creating opposing color values. I would use Color Tran lighting equipment to move faster and I would play with the color values. He was seduced by that idea. He spoke to me about lighting in Citizen Kane, and then he said, you're hired.
What was it like working with Welles?
WILLY KURANT: The first day we filmed a scene with Jeanne Moreau in a bedroom, where she blew out some candles and opened the curtains. I made the light from outside very warm. A guy from the lab apologized, because it was so warm. In a very loud voice, Orson called him an idiot, and said it looked wonderful. I always felt he was behind me. One day, we were shooting in Spain, and the truck carrying the dolly equipment didn't show up on time, so I did a lot of handheld shots with a very heavy camera. We got along in every way. I was always one of the first people on the set in the morning, and Orson was always early, too. I was staying in a motel in Madrid. Orson said you can't stay in a motel and brought me home with him to stay in his house.
Is your lighting typically planned or is it intuitive?
WILLY KURANT: I believe very much in lighting at the spur of the moment. Very often I see something on the face of an actress or actor or in the way they are moving that wasn't in the original plan, and I will decide to do something different. Maybe I'll turn off the backlight and show the actors in silhouette or I'll create highlights to draw attention to a face. Maybe an actress shows up with bags under her eyes, and I have to use flat light on her that day. That's the reality of the moment. You have to deal with the face you have in front of you, because after all you are photographing an actress who is telling a story. The cinematographer is usually responsible for choosing the lenses, angles, lighting and coverage, so we are creating the visual language of the film. That's why we should be considered authors of the images and co-authors of the movie.
You worked on Welles' The Deep?
WILLY KURANT: I only shot part of The Deep, because I was committed to shoot The Night of the Following Day with Marlon Brando. The story takes place on two boats. We started shooting in Yugoslavia on a boat. We had to loop the sound because of the noises on the boat. I was shooting handheld and Orson was letting me frame the movie. That was like winning the Legion of Honor, because normally when you were working with Orson, he checked your framing right down to the millimeter, and also how you were balancing light. He talked to me a lot about asymmetric composition and how to unbalance the image in a very strong way. This is the subject of an article I have written for the art museum in France. It is called Framing for Orson Welles.