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It's All True (1993)

A documentary about Orson Welles's unfinished three-part film about South America.
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Cast

Credited cast:
Manuel 'Jacare' Olimpio Meira ...
Himself
Jeronimo André De Souza ...
Himself
Raimundo 'Tata' Correia Lima ...
Himself
Manuel 'Preto' Pereira da Silva ...
Himself (as Manuel 'Preto' Pereira Da Silva)
Jose Sobrinho ...
Himself
Francisca Moreira da Silva ...
Herself (as Francisca Moreira Da Silva)
...
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Herself (voice) (archive footage)
Edmar Morel ...
Himself - Interviewee
Grande Otelo ...
Himself
...
Himself - Interview (archive footage)
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Storyline

A documentary about Orson Welles's unfinished three-part film about South America.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

October 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Dreamers  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Welles died in 1985 without seeing the surviving footage from "It's All True." See more »

Connections

Referenced in La última película (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

A must-see for Wellesians and lovers of beauty, but, although I worship at the great man's altar, not to my taste.
13 September 1999 | by (Dublin, Ireland) – See all my reviews

Welles was apparently asked by Nelson Rockefeller to make a film cementing USA-Latin American relations during World War II, to forestall possible Nazi influence in the South. It's easy to feel resentful about this film, especially if you've read David Thomson's majesterial 'Rosebud: The Story Of Orson Welles'. He relates how Welles' persistant and eventually pointless devotion to this project led directly , through his own lapses, to the destruction of his greatest film, THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS.

On the other hand, this is a major act of cinematic restititution, the equivalent of finding a lost Shakespeare play, or Bach cantata. Any scrap of abandoned Wellesiana is vital, and needs to be seen, for its inherent brilliance of style and ideas, whatever its superficial shortcomings; and to give a more coherent grasp of an awesome, mercurial career.

The only problem is that the project, even if it had been completed, seems to have been wrongheaded, especially in consideration of Welles' particular talents. I had seen snippets of the samba sequence on TNT a few years ago, and they seemed redolent of a certain, loveable Welles - anecdotal, entertaining, sympathetic, larger-than-life, perceptive. A large element of the Welles aesthetic is play. The flaw of this film is that Welles abandons this because he wants to be seen in serious, selfless, unpatronising mode. This attitude today, however, can seem as simplistic, and even dangerous, as the worst pieties of Italian neo-realism.

The restoration is structured as a documentary, as we get a brief background to the story: both Welles' involvement, and the plight of the Brazilian people he portrayed. The film itself was intended to be a triptych. We only get snippets of the first two parts - 'Benito' has some remarkable camera angles later used more meaningfully in OTHELLO and THE IMMORTAL STORY; a loving capturing of Mexico, which, like DEUX OU TROIS CHOSES QUE JE SAIS D'ELLE, manages to aestheticise poverty; and a lovely shot of flying sheep. The second story was supposed to be about the roots of samba - we get some amazing, evocative colour footage of a Rio carnival, all the more moving and alive today when we think that this was going on in the middle of a black and white war.

The centrepiece of IT'S ALL TRUE is a supposedly complete 'Four Men On A Raft' (with an unintentionally comic reminder of 'Three Men On A Boat'): a reconstruction of four peasant fishermen's 1650-mile sea voyage to the Brazilian fascist leader, the appropriately named Vargas, to protest about their atrocious living and working conditions.

This is a silent work of the most ravishing beauty, with some of the most extraordinary images ever filmed, utilising, yet far superior to, Eisensteinian composition: the fishermen at work; life in the community; the sea voyage; visits to beautiful Mexican churches; the arrival of the men at a Rio beach. There is a jaw-dropping funeral sequence, a dwarfed procession under a weltering sky, which is among the best things in Welles (i.e. cinema).

It's just that I, personally, can't stand this kind of filmmaking. It's main influence is the unbearable Robert Flaherty, and besides a trite, TABU-style love story, there is an unthinking romanticising of the peasantry, ignoring them as actual human beings who might prefer not to be seen as so saintly, that verges on the offensive; a benevolent version of the white man's burden. Of course, Welles, politically, was a very decent, liberal, passionate man, but none of the methods used to politically expose, as well as humanise, Charles Foster Kane, are used here: that would be to trivialise the project.

It's this air of repressive earnestness that kills IT'S ALL TRUE for me. Welles could be a brilliant documentary maker - see F FOR FAKE - but this film, for all its peerless beauty, seems little more than propaganda, with Welles' atypical lack of ego making it feel unWellesian and underdone. This is doubly apparent during the closing credits, over which is played a wonderful, amusing encounter between Welles and Carmen Miranda, who explains to him various aspects of the samba. The heroic restorers deserve laurels, medals and a place at the celestial restoration of AMBERSONS, but if you want to see a great 'Good Neighbour' film, watch the magical THE THREE CABALLEROS.


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