Orson Welles William Johnson - Essay

William Johnson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Judged by first—even second or third—impressions, Welles's films are a triumph of show over substance. His most memorable images seem like elephantine labors to bring forth mouse-size ideas.

His films bulge with preposterously vast spaces: the echoing halls of Kane's Xanadu; the rambling castles of Macbeth, Othello, and Arkadin; the vertiginous offices of The Trial; the cathedral-like palace and tavern of Falstaff.

His camera moves with a swagger, craning down through the skylight of El Rancho in Kane and up over the bomb-carrying car in Touch of Evil. When the camera is still, the composition may cry out for attention with anything from multiple...

(The entire section is 3306 words.)