Surely one of the buzziest cinephile events in the fall festival season will be the premiere of “Hopper/Welles,” a newly assembled documentary that’s essentially an extended fireside conversation between two rogue directors, Dennis Hopper and Orson Welles. The footage was shot in 1970, a watershed year for the filmmakers as Hopper had just given “Easy Rider” to the world in 1969. Check out a clip below, in which Hopper talks about the perils of editing “Easy Rider,” the late actor/director’s feature debut behind the camera, and a pivotal film for the age of New Hollywood.
This footage, never before seen in full, was resurrected by producer Filip Jan Rymsza and editor Bob Murawski, who helped bring Welles’ unfinished “The Other Side of the Wind” to meticulously restored life two years ago. The conversation took place in Los Angeles, in November 1970, after Welles flew Hopper out from New Mexico to discuss a cameo in “The Other Side of the Wind,” a wild fictional telling of the behind-the-scenes drama into making a maverick Hollywood movie.
According to the film’s official synopsis, “It had been more than a decade since Welles had worked within the Hollywood system, and he had begun to strike out on his own as an independent, ruthlessly idiosyncratic artist; Hopper, on the other hand, had just had an unexpected major success with the studio-financed counterculture hit ‘Easy Rider.’ At this decisive moment, the pair of auteurs shared their candid thoughts and feelings about cinema, politics, and life, and Welles captured this unscripted talk on two cameras, in lush black and white, lit only by a fireplace and hurricane lamps.”
“Hopper/Welles” will first debut out of competition at the Venice Film Festival in September, followed by a bow in the Spotlight section at the New York Film Festival later in the month. IndieWire spoke with producer Filip Jan Rymsza back in 2018 during the Netflix release of “The Other Side of the Wind” about his restoration process for that film. Together, with “Hopper/Welles,” these new films allow fans to see Welles in a different, perhaps more intimate light.
The film premieres September 8 in Venice.