Previously at the ICA - Films

Magnificent Ambersons, Dir. Orson Welles, 1942

Magnificent Ambersons

29 Oct 201130 Oct 2011

A touchstone film for contemporary filmmakers including the two Andersons, Wes and Paul Thomas. The Magnificent Ambersons is much documented, like many of Welles’s films, for the high level of Studio interference during its production. It follows the fortunes of the wealthy Amberson family as they struggle to maintain their genteel way of life in the shadow of the fast approach industrial age. Along the way, with great tenderness and humour, it provides one of the most moving and piercing accounts of the rise and fall of a family who believe they are able to hang onto their outmoded way of life and hold back the changes sweeping the Western World. Holed up in their opulent mansion on the outskirts of town, Welles wryly dissects the family with an ambivalent complexity stressing the changing role of social hierarchies and community as the old world order slowly crumbles before the new. The Magnificent Ambersons is at once a paean to a lost time of genteel mannersand comfortable living, but also a biting satire on divisive snobbery and petty one-up-manship.

Legend has it that Welles left a single print of his original version in Brazil as America entered Word War II. It remains perhaps the most sought after movie relic of all – the Holy Grail for cineastes. But for now we have to make do with this version of Welles’ sublime sensational film.

Dir. Orson Welles, USA 1942, 88 mins, cert U
Cast. Tim Holt, Joseph Cotton and Dolores Costello

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