Moby Dick-Rehearsed: A Parody

1142 Words5 Pages
Orson Welles is held in the minds of many as a notable film director and actor, but his work in other modes of storytelling is often overlooked. I intend in this paper to analyze one of those overlooked works, the play he authored and produced in London Moby Dick—Rehearsed, adapted from the novel. It is my intention to demonstrate that this work subscribes to what we may call Welles’s philosophy of storytelling in order to encompass his film, theatre, and radio works—he frames the story of the novel in a way that is consistent with his other works, he himself plays and “transfigures” the role of the “king,” and he parodies the genre of theatre itself. Moby Dick—Rehearsed is not a “straight” adaptation of the novel. Instead, Welles adapts…show more content…
This is reminiscent of Welles’s work beyond radio and theatre. Citizen Kane is bookended by twin palindromic sequences of shots—the first approaches Xanadu, the second backs away. This indicates a kind of “opening” and “closing” of the narrative—like a zipper—an introduction that the story is about to start, and another marker that indicates that the story has ended. The Magnificent Ambersons begins and ends with Welles’s narration, again indicating a start and a finish, and further emphasizing Welles’s role as a storyteller. A large chunk of Chimes at Midnight is framed by Falstaff reminiscing. In this example, Welles’s character is literally telling the story, but Falstaff is curiously able to recollect scenes that occur inside the castle, where he was never present. These are not continuity errors, but instead are instances of Welles asserting that the power of story is mightier than mortal man. When Falstaff tells this story he may invent or imagine the scenes inside the castle, or perhaps knows about these scenes through some other means; but regardless of whether these are lies or not, we accept their telling as truth, because it’s all part of the story. Welles is asserting that the storyteller has a certain power over the listener, which
Open Document