George Orson Welles is an American original and a cultural phenomenon. Welles was young, only 25, when he became famous and infamous. Welles was brash, arrogant, innovative, brilliant, a showman, and a magician. Welles, s creativity became apparent in childhood. In school, Welles would actually write, direct, and act his own plays, catching the attention of local newspapers who dubbed him a prodigy. When Orson was six years old, his parents divorced and his mother took him to Chicago, immersing him in the theatre and classical music.
After his mother, s unexpected death a few years later, Welles was sent to Todd school, where he would continue to produce plays. After graduating, Welles was sent to Ireland, where his father, out of disdain for his passion in theatre, hoped he would turn to painting. The plan backfired splendidly, as Welles found his way to the Gate Theatre. Welles eventually left for America, where he met John Houseman who, with Welles, began work with the New York Federal Theatre ^aEUR" a project formed with the WPA under the New Deal reformation.
Here they produced the famous adaptations of Macbeth and Julius Caesar. Right-wing politicians began to protest the project, and their production of The Cradle Will Rock was overly leftist, and it was closed down by federal agents on opening night. Welles resigned soon after, and formed a new repertory company ^aEUR" the Mercury Theater. Welles also became involved in directing and acting in radio broadcasts of the classics, particularly Dickens and Shakespeare. His most famous broadcast was The War of the Worlds which caused national panic among listeners who believed that the simulated news broadcast it featured was real.
Though the broadcast was followed by critical press and threats of legal action (including one from H. G. Wells), it exemplified Welles, s extraordinary abilities as a producer, the power of the mass communication medium of radio, and most importantly, it brought national notoriety to Welles himself. In 1939 Welles went to Hollywood. His first produced feature film, and perhaps his greatest, was Citizen Kane.
Welles was fearless and flamboyant, even when William Randolph Hearst, the journalism magnate, campaigned to have Citizen Kane removed from theatres. Hearst, who saw a portrait of himself in the film, threatened legal action and delayed the film, s release. Hearst, s action had, however, given the film wonderful publicity. It was released in 1941, in the week of Welles, 26 th birthday. Not only was Welles, s subject matter controversial, the cinematic techniques used by Welles to illustrate the subject were also controversial and stunning.
For example, low angle camera shots that revealed ceilings and made characters seem simultaneously dominant and trapped. Welles pushed existing filmmaking techniques as far as they would go, creating a new and distinctive film aesthetic. Welles, s career as a director was brilliant and erratic. His life was filled with unfulfilled projects, but as his peak, he was regarded as one of the greatest figures in cinema. Welles was similar to one of his most famous characters, Harry Lime ^aEUR" A ^aEURoecold war^aEUR character shrouded in ^aEURoemystery and deceit^aEUR.