American: An Odyssey to 1947

The Great Depression.  The War of the Worlds. The Rise of Orson Welles.  World War II.  The Dropping of the Atomic Bomb.  The Fall of Orson Welles.  This was 1947.

And if you don’t think they are all connected then director Danny Wu has a movie for you: American: An Odyssey to 1947Wu’s film is, at once, revolutionary in its use of black-and-white images and animation to tell the story.  It is filled with defining moments for both Welles and America as he fastens his documentary around the rise and fall of Orson Welles, who left America and became a world-renown independent filmmaker after Hollywood and J. Edgar Hoover were both done with him.


"sheds a bright light on the collective consciousness of America and reframes what we know - or think we know - about America’s history"

But this movie - while centered around Citizen Kane - is also about a group of diverse American voices who contributed to the America of Welles’ time period.  Their voices - heard through interviews with family members of survivors of the Japanese internment and other abuses from the government and the military - sheds a bright light on the collective consciousness of America and reframes what we know - or think we know - about America’s history.

The documentary, amidst the backdrop of The Great Depression, World War II, and the dropping of the Atomic Bomb, is an eye opener; connecting the dots of its subject matter in a linear and excellent way. American: An Odyssey to 1947

In the early 1940s, director Orson Welles navigated his meteoric Hollywood rise. As WWII begins, a Japanese American boy visits abroad, and an African American soldier enlists in the army. As the story heads towards 1947, each character follows their own ambitions in search of their American identity and it truly works, bringing a soaring heart to life with emotion and rhythmic beats; pumping the blood of American; the original title of Citizen Kane.

And what a story it is.  Artfully edited and carefully constructed, each scene is filled with precise details; the type Welles himself would champion.  The tone of the film is split into two halves, with the first half being about the romantic rise of a great American director, and the second half transitioning into the realities of race and life in the Jim Crow era. In the end, as one American returns home, another American is forced into exile. Written, directed, edited, and produced by Danny Wu, the captivating documentary features archival interviews with Orson Welles, and new ones with British actor Simon Callow, and Richard France. It premieres on digital platforms September 12 from Gravitas Ventures and will screen in select theaters (beginning in New York on September 8) during the fall.

5/5 stars

Film Details

American: An Odyssey to 1947

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
102 mins
: Danny Wu
Danny Wu
Orson Welles; Catherine L. Benamou; Gray Brechin
: Documentary

Memorable Movie Quote: "Officer X, we know your name now."
Gravitas Ventures
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 8, 2023 (select theaters) September 12, 2023 (VOD)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: Following the rise and fall of Orson Welles, while interweaving stories of diverse individuals amidst the backdrop of the Great Depression, World War II, and the dropping of the atomic bomb, director’ Danny Wu’s AMERICAN : AN ODYSSEY TO 1947 sheds light on the defining moments that shaped the destinies of the subjects, and the nation's collective consciousness.


American: An Odyssey to 1947