Chronicles of Tragically Repressed Pasts Through Orson Welles in the Revolutionary Modern World of Online Historical Preservation

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Film director Orson Welles is more commonly known for his few outstanding critical successes rather than a fighter for artistic vision. Most of his career spanning from the 1940s to the 1970s was in fact focused on fruitlessly fighting for the creation of works, battling both Hollywood and producers wanting to undertake projects with an easier route to financial success on top of his own seemingly endless, sometimes harmfully so, artistically ambitious imagination. All the world has left of these failures is a nichely known legacy ripe for historical study and lessons on how to get artistic visions created–perfect for the modern internet age, where greater public access to information has successfully brought more attention to the details of the auteur’s career.

One such success is visible in the GeoCities page “THE UNSEEN ORSON WELLES UNREALIZED, UNFINISHED & UNRELEASED PROJECTS” provides a simple overview of the long list of potential projects film director Orson Welles did not see to completion, including a brief description of the many general conflicts standing in the way of his visions and a short description of the unrealized works’ purposes and how close Welles was to completing each one. Writer and editor JRJ, coming from a mysterious organization WorldWideWelles linked by the page in a few instances to extinct websites, with seemingly no other details throughout any other corner of the Internet. 

We can surmise WorldWideWelles’s general purpose through the rugged, information focused design of the GeoCities page. JRJ organizes his points in paragraphs or numbered/bulleted lines of black text on a plain white background, with large black lines and a variety of indentations offering the only organization to the piece. The writer has no goals other than to provide knowledge in an easily-readable and digestible manner, explicitly stated by the page’s subtitle: “A Resource Guide For Welles Fans, Scholars and Students.” WorldWideWelles gains a characterization as a predominantly preservationist operation, valuing distribution of information above presentation with little focus to create web features separating segments of focus rather than simple white space, in addition to a more creative style for the page rather than black on white text. 

Of course, the style could have been a product of a rushly produced page or internet illiteracy. Yet no matter the reason for the page’s presentation, JRJ’s goals were not interfered with. The intended audience of a more educated, Knowledge-seeking group of people would likely be able to digest information without a visual hook, spending time on the internet for intended or unintended research. Intentionally or not, WorldWideWelles fulfilled an educator-like role, seeking out viewers valuing knowledge on Orson Welles in addition to the pure entertainment provided by more visually creative GeoCities with a common correspondent of little focus on somewhat in depth main points with more to say other than a few fun facts. 

This type of website ended up more suitable for an early mainstream internet audience with users commonly playing around in a new world of instructional connection to gain a contemporary technical visual prowess, building on WorldWideWelles’s preservationist character, given the niche goals of most endeavors to bring a forgotten past to a duly interested future. 

GeoCities is full of many more such lesser known aspirating communities working for goals based in knowledge, ranging from creating online records to the bare-bones of actual discussion boards of such topics. WorldWideWelles highlights how essential the early internet was to the evolution of online intellectual discourse, laying the groundwork for a revolution in distribution of information. The current internet world is now able to easily consume virtually any topic of interest through strong communities secondary to the mainstream that were previously too small to grow any network substantially successful at preservation and other modes of allocation of niche topics. It has characterized itself as a haven for all the waning, unknown, and incomplete legacies of the past, rekindling life in many, many histories of Welles-like figures.

Works Cited


NCSA Mosaic Image Capture of GeoCities WorldWideWelles Article “THE UNSEEN ORSON WELLES: UNREALIZED, UNFINISHED, AND UNRELEASED PROJECTS.” 1 Jan. 1996. Oldweb.Today, 

“Orson Welles.” New World Encyclopedia, 

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