Would 25-year-old Orson Welles (whose 1941 Citizen Kane staggered Hollywood) go to Brazil and make a film for the United States' anti-Nazi "Good Neighbor Policy"? Welles eagerly agreed, masterminding a complex film that fe... more »atured three separate stories, each vividly depicting the charm, drama and politics of South American culture. During the course of filming, Welles encountered hazardous locations and an ever-changing cast of studio executives at RKO. After months of arduous shooting, the studio suddenly pulled the plug and shelved the project. Welles never recovered from this and the true story of what happened to him in Brazil was never told.« less
"Orson Welles is, was and will always be one of the greatest of all filmakers. You can't really argue with that.The chance to see lost footage from any of his unfinished projects is always welcome, but this is something of a missed opportunity I'm afraid.Richly illustrated with interviews and unique footage, the effort and research cannot be faulted, but frequently beautiful images flick by without any explanation whilst pointless facts are dealt in detail.The cardinal sin here are the "recuts" of the virtually complete sections of It's All True. The "new" musical scores are obstrusive and syrupy - very "hollywood". They sit uncomfortably with the footage, and are NOT Welles style. It's not the actual scores but the orchestration which seems so out of place. Instead of drawing you into the sequences it dilutes the impact. It's a real shame, as you can see the influence such sequences had on later Welles pictures, "The Lady From Shanghai" - one of my favourite films - for example. After such a well researched build up it's real let down to see the work damaged in this way. Why the filmakers couldn't have used original recordings from the time film was made - and by the artists featured - is a mystery.It's still well worth seeing - but, as I've already said, is a missed opportunity."
Review of Orson Welles "It's All True".
Mreeve1@aol.com | England | 01/10/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A treasure for all Welles' fans. A 32 minute documentary on the failure to complete "It's All True" leads into a full presentation of the beautiful 46 minute B&W SILENT drama documentary titled "Four Men On A Raft". An excellent modern ( Stereo ) score made up of renditions of the Brazilian music Welles was investigating is dubbed on together with appropriate sound effects ( wind & waves etc ). Despite being on Nitrate film stock stashed in a studio basement for over 40 years its presented in almost perfect condition. A thrill to see what's left and truly sad to think of what might have emerged. Included amongst the snippets of incomplete material is just 3 minutes B&W and 3 minutes colour Rio Carnival footage and a complete 3 minute segment from "My Friend Burrito"."
It's All Wonderful...If You're a Welles Fan
McGillicutty | The Sooner Nation | 11/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""It's All True" is a well put together film of Orson Welles' attempt in 1942 to make a three-part documentary in South America.
The film we see includes revealing interviews of Welles' assistants and the people of Brazil who helped him in making his documentary. It also includes two separate bits from Welles himself, one of them is clearly from the BBC documentary "With Orson Welles, A Life in Film". The other one was filmed apparently in the late 40's or early 50's and is very interesting as Welles is leaning forward into the camera and telling the story of a "witch doctor" who was dissapointed to say the least when he was told the film would not be completed.
"It's All True" would've been the name of Welles' documentary had he been able to finish it. Of the parts that he did manage to get to camera;
- "My Friend Bunito", the story of a young Mexican boy and his pet calf. One scene was filmed and edited together where the calf is taken to an annual blessing of the animals. The footage is quite striking and very well made.
- "The Carnival in Brazil", is a collection of black & white footage and technicolor (one of Welles' few color efforts) of the annual carnival. The technicolor footage was shot on a large stage, but none of this was edited together in any real fashion and I wonder if Welles himself knew exactly how all the pieces would fit together (he had no script).
- "Four Men on a Raft", is the only completed version, though there is no soundtrack. The footage (we are told) was edited together as close to Welles' vision as they could (apparently, Welles didn't leave behind any detailed script, but it probably is close to what he wanted). The music that is added does not seem to fit very well with the film, but then again, the "love story" that Welles shot is kind of odd and almost old fashioned for his style. Still, it's apparent that Welles had a great love for these people and managed to get some fine performances from them. And even though it was shot on an old-style camera for the time, the footage is particularly good and very well made.
We'll never know of course how well the final version of Welles' vision would be, but it certainly was a crime that it never was completed.
If you are a fan of Orson Welles' work, you owe it to yourself to buy this movie. "
Lost Piece of Welles Brilliance
Chris Peters | Austin, Texas | 02/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""It's All True" often receives minor attention in most histories of Orson Welles, probably because nobody had ever seen it. While Welles was in South America filming this documentary, RKO Pictures was busy destroying The Magnificant Ambersons, which had the signs of becoming greater than even Citizen Kane. This video (a documentary about the documentary) reminded me that "It's All True" had the possiblity of being greater still. Welles established a true contection with the people of South America, and to hear their love and admiration for this foriegn filmmaker only reinforces the tragedy of Welles' career. The film would probably have become a national treasure in Brazil, had Welles been allowed to finish it.Aside from various clips of no particular order, there exists an entire sequence from the original, telling the story of an epic journey of 4 fisherman traveling half-way around the continent in a simple boat. The sequence lacks a soundtrack, and thus is missing the punch of other good Welles material. Orson always used audio with equal mastery as his visual style, and in this sequence you can see just how rough one was without the other. Still worth of a purchase."
Paul Lima (firstname.lastname@example.org | U.S.A. | 07/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A little known documentary that is both entertaining and informative. Touching first hand accounts and rare footage that give an extraordinary look at both Mr. Welles and the Brazilian culture. If there is one reason to own this tape it would be to see over and over again the last part of the film. A piece called "Four Men on a Raft" It is the most beautiful black and white short film I have ever seen. The love Mr. Welles had for these poor fishermen is so wonderfully apparent."