The Dreamers (partially found unfinished Orson Welles film; 1980-1982)

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Dreamers orson.jpg

Orson Welles as Marcus in the test footage.

Status: Partially Found

The Dreamers is an unfinished film by director Orson Welles, known for famous movies such as 1941's Citizen Kane. The film was going to be adapted from two 1934 short stories called The Dreamers and Echoes which were written in the short story collection Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen. Production began in 1980, but Welles was unable to find financial backers to fund the film. Welles died five years after the start of production in 1985, leaving the film incomplete.


The story for The Dreamers was revised multiple times before Welles' death in 1985. The final version of the plot revolved around Pellegrina Leoni, an opera singer who loses her voice in a fire. Determined to abandon her life, she decides from then on to lead the lives of many, her merchant friend Marcus Coccoza following alongside in her travels around the world.[1]


Production for The Dreamers began in 1978 when Welles' closest friend, Oja Kodar, began writing the screenplay. In 1980, using a 35mm 1:85 widescreen camera, Welles and Kodar shot twenty-five minutes of test footage in Welles' home. In this test footage filmed in black and white, Welles and Kodar act as two characters from The Dreamers. Welles had a tendency to self-finance his own films before a major production company would pick up the project. The test footage was meant for potential investors, but after no luck in financial backing, Welles and Kodar rewrote the script in an attempt to change the outcome. Work continued with Welles and Kodar continuing to act all roles. While no actors or actresses were brought onto the project, Welles did express interest in names such as Timothy Doltan, Bud Cort, and Jeanne Moreau. Welles also hinted at filming the movie in Europe with an English cast. Those close to Welles stated it was not uncommon for him to change his mind multiple times throughout production.

Oja Kodar as Pellegrina in the test footage.

After two years of production, no actors had officially signed onto the project, no studio picked up the script, and no investors had backed the film. Therefore, production was officially halted in 1982.


The twenty-five-minute test footage that was produced is currently archived in the Munich Filmmuseum in Germany. It has been shown at various film festivals, the last of which being a tribute to Welles in 2004 during the New York Film Forum.[2] A portion of this footage is shown in the documentary Orson Welles: The One-Man Band as well as a special feature on the Criterion DVD release of Welles' film F for Fake. The script for the movie be read online in its entirety.

Cast and Crew

A planned cast for the film included:[3]

  • Timothy Dalton as Lincoln Forsner
  • Oliver Reed as Guildenstern
  • Bud Cort as Pilot
  • Peter Ustinov as Baron Clootz
  • Alida Valli as Eudoxia

External Link

Article that covers the entire production of The Dreamers Retrieved 24 Jul '18