Here is the link. Here is the story.
Documentary with big, very big Orson Welles link
GUARDIAN NEWS SERVICE
By David Thomson
The other week, I saw a film I can't get out of my head. I'm not sure that it's especially "good" in the sense of being flawlessly made. But it's a film about inescapable flaws. Sometimes a movie does the simplest thing film has to offer: it shows us something we have never quite seen or felt before; it shows us something that shocks and alarms us - and that doesn't have to be an ingredient from a horror picture, or something capable of fictional redemption. Horror can live in the mind of the beholder, and it can be an everyday thing. Let me try to describe Prodigal Sons to you.
It's a family documentary, made by Kimberley Reed. She's about 40 now, a tall, striking woman who lives in New York and went to film school. But she was a boy once, the star quarterback on her high-school football team in Montana. So it seems to be a documentary about sexual change - except that Kimberley doesn't dwell on that experience. With her lover, another woman, she goes home to Montana to work out her family history.
Her father was a doctor, and is dead, but her mother is alive, an earnest, retired teacher. In the early 60s, the couple believed they could not have children, so they adopted a boy named Marc. They got him at an adoption agency in Tacoma, Washington, when he was four weeks old. But then, quite quickly, the couple had two children of their own - Kimberley and a boy. The family grew up in Montana. Marc was the shortest of the children, the least successful in school, and maybe the most needy and resentful. He was afraid of not being the centre of attention, but he was a lively boy with a lot of friends and an inexplicable and untrained ability to sit at the piano and play any tune he heard.
When Marc was 21 and living in southern Utah, he and some friends went on a drive to Las Vegas. There was a serious crash that left Marc in a coma for seven days. He had brain surgery. And about five years later he started to have grand mal seizures. The doctors felt these were tied to the accident, but they couldn't be sure. Marc was married and had a child, but his sense of having been cheated by life grew.
One day, he decided to do what he could to trace his origins. He went back to Tacoma, and the agency found that they had permission to give him the names of his parents. The father was long since dead; I don't know his name. The mother was dead too, but more recently, and her name was Rebecca Welles. Rebecca was the daughter of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. Kimberley was staggered when she heard this news, because she was a film student who revered Welles. But the funny thing about Marc was that he hardly knew who his grandparents had been.
I am confident that if I had known nothing about the background to Prodigal Sons, and if you had asked me to nominate Marc's grandfather, I would never have guessed correctly - and I have written a book about Orson Welles. But once you know, the brain is freed and memory and storytelling wash away "fact" in the way a wave erases writing in the sand. All of a sudden, Marc lurches across the screen like Hank Quinlan in Touch of Evil. In his repose, you see the strange babyface that lasted in Orson for 70 years. And when Marc explodes (because he is alarmingly full of anger), smashing a mirror and becoming violent, you see the terrible temper that so many witnesses reported in Orson. If you love Welles, for whatever reason, this documentary is an uncanny, haunting experience.
In a Dickens novel, perhaps, Marc might become an actor. In life no such thing happens. He looks at DVDs of Welles movies but is not especially stirred. The thing that intrigues him is the ghostly physical resemblance - the feeling of kinship. Did Welles and Hayworth know of Marc's existence? Welles died in 1985, Hayworth in 1987. Rebecca Welles is someone we hardly know. Mobbed as a child by photographers, as an adult she retreated into private life. She led as quiet a life as she could in the Pacific northwest. She married twice, was largely out of touch with her father, and had Marc in 1966, immediately putting him up for adoption. Rebecca died in 2004, aged 59, and she and Marc never met after he was adopted.
But there is another new Welles documentary, The Unknown Orson Welles, in which Marc says it was at Rita's urging that Rebecca put him up for adoption. He also claims his father killed himself when he realised he had lost the child. Is that Marc making himself centre of attention, or does it hint at an unknown life where maybe even Orson knew of Marc's existence? As Prodigal Sons proceeds, Marc becomes more agitated. He is in hospital for a time and on constant medication. He is alarming and endearing by turns, not because of his mishaps, but because of the mounting violence they are leading to. As with any family story where covers and polite lies are ripped aside, the viewer feels a dreadful fascination at what is shown. Kim goes back to New York to finish the film. She clearly has a rewarding life. As for Marc, he has not been rescued or saved - but what a sentimental suggestion it is in art and fiction to think that the wounded are saved.
At one point, the family travel to Croatia to visit Oja Kodar, Welles' lover in the last 20 or so years of his life. Kodar had never heard of Marc's existence, but says Welles would have loved to know about a grandson because he yearned for male offspring (from three marriages, Orson had three daughters). When she looks at Marc's feet, she sees Orson - varicose veins, flat-footed awkwardness, a lack of exercise. It is another small genetic revelation. Kodar also notes that Orson's mother, Beatrice Ives Welles, was an accomplished pianist.
So perhaps Welles never knew his grandson and Marc McKerrow is not especially interested in Welles. Still, for the third party in the triangle, the onlooker, the experience is not so simple. Of course, the story is proof of the power of damage or illness, and of the startling revelations of chance. Does Marc play the piano because of his great-grandmother, or is it coincidence? Is it sentimental to see him explode and to feel moments in Citizen Kane - where the tycoon, abandoned by a wife, smashes her room to pieces? Is it possible in play-acting that Orson came close to the mind of a grandson of whom he had no real knowledge? Or is this all territory to be observed more than explored?It may depend on how you feel about Welles, a man who neglected his children terribly because of his obsession with work, who had a brother (Richard) who seems to have been so eclipsed by Orson that it may have amounted to disturbance. No one ever accused Orson Welles of being mentally ill, not even in an age when his bi-polar tendencies seem more obvious or inescapable. There is so much in Citizen Kane to digest or remember. Many casual observers forget that Kane had a son, or how the son was killed - in a car crash. You can hardly think of two different things without living to discover their connection.