Moby Dick (unfinished film)

Moby Dick is an unfinished film by Orson Welles, filmed in 1971. It is not to be confused with the incomplete (and now lost) 1955 film Welles made of his meta-play Moby Dick—Rehearsed, or with Moby Dick, in which Welles played a supporting role.

Moby Dick
Directed byOrson Welles
Produced byOrson Welles
Stefan Drössler (reconstruction supervisor)
Written byHerman Melville
StarringOrson Welles
CinematographyGary Graver
Running time
22 mins
CountryUnited States

The film consists of readings by Welles from the novel Moby-Dick, shot against a blue background with various optical illusions to give the impression of being at sea. It was made during a break in the filming of The Other Side of the Wind. There is some ambiguity about what Welles intended to do with the footage, and how he was going to compile it.[1] It remained unedited in his lifetime.[2]

After Welles' death in 1985, all of his unfinished films were bequeathed to his long-term companion and mistress Oja Kodar, and she in turn donated many of them (including Moby Dick) to the Munich Film Museum for preservation and restoration. In 1999 the Munich Film Museum then edited together the rushes into a 22-minute cut, which has subsequently been screened at numerous film festivals.

The restored footage has never been released on video or DVD, although some unrestored clips can be seen in Vassili Slovic's 1995 documentary Orson Welles: the One Man Band.


  1. Vassili Slovic, Orson Welles: the One Man Band (1995) - documentary on Welles' unfinished projects.
  2. IMDB entry for 'Moby Dick'
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