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also known as Around the World with Orson Welles

Around the World1955

  • 3.8
Orson Welles made his first of many forays into television in 1955 when he signed on to produce, direct and host a series of twenty-six travelogues for British television. Six were ultimately broadcast, taking viewers to Paris, London, Madrid, the Basque Country and Vienna (where Welles made an iconic impression years earlier in THE THIRD MAN). Though these segments were completed by others while Welles was occupied on other projects, he spent weeks editing the footage and shooting additional shots of himself asking questions and commenting on the edited scenes, all matched to create the illusion of unity. His onscreen presence defines the episodes with his illusory affable engagement with his interview subjects and his knack for making his beautifully-scripted commentaries sound conversational and extemporaneous. He is host, interviewer, raconteur and film essayist in his first-take on a form he returned to twenty years later in F FOR FAKE. [For several decades, "Revisiting Vienna" was believed lost but it was fortunately relocated. That segment is included here.] – Sean Axmaker

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Member Reviews (4)

top reviewer

Around the World with Orson Welles

Or rather Around Europe.....

Or rather to 5 locations in Europe in 6 episodes.

Initially filmed for TV this is by far not perfect but still a thoroughly entertaining journey back into a time when the world, or even Europe, wasn't as easily accessible as it is now. And when bullfighting was still the thing.

There are a lot of repetitions, some use of stock footage and scenes not filmed by Welles and often featuring less of the actual locations and more in depth (sometimes far too long) interviews with a variety of different people.

Though definitely a bit self indulgent (this is Orson Welles after all), the visits to some of the contemporary artists and writers always had me head to Google to find out more about those people, now mainly forgotten but at the time obviously carrying some name value. Surprised to see that the visit to Raymond Duncan did not include a single reference to his more famous sister Isadora.

But, man, I could listen to Welles reading a shopping list and would still be entertained.

Really interesting to note that some of the topics covered are still current in one form or the other: the over importance of mechanical entertainment for children in the US (today: read digital entertainment), the faster pace of life (Espresso cafes in Vienna, now the likes of Starbucks), our over reliance of purchased goods and loss of true self-independence.

The more things change the more they stay the same indeed.

Beautifully composed. Delightful, rhythmic and intelligent. Poetry.

Orson Welles... nothing to say. He's always great.

A World we can never visit again.