The Construction of Space and the Monstrous-Feminine in the Welles-Text

in Critical Survey

‘I wrote the script and directed it. My name is Orson Welles.’ These words, spoken by the director over a shot of a microphone at the end of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), resonate far beyond their ostensible function of a delayed credit sequence. In the first place, to connoisseurs of Welles’s opus, this is highly ironic: the film for which the director claims entire credit was the first and, to many, the worst case of an endless series of studio cuts, recuts and various tamperings with Welles’s films that was to continue nagging the director throughout his career. The voice-over, therefore, becomes the signifier of a ghost, a voice claiming authorship for a text that no longer exists – the original, unmutilated Ambersons – , or the almost real signature of a fictional author. The real Orson Welles was not the director of this film. But then, who is this ‘Orson Welles’ who addresses the spectator from the fringes of the film?

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