AMERICAN: AN ODYSSEY TO 1947 – A Review by John Strange

AMERICAN: AN ODYSSEY TO 1947 – A Review by John Strange

American: An Odyssey to 1947 is the holy grail of documentaries, an engrossing story told imaginatively utilizing multiple narrators as well as recordings, where available, of the main subjects.

The film takes the story of Orson Welles’ life and blends in the stories of two additional families to bring us a view of history that is both interesting and informative.

Had the director, Danny Wu, concentrated solely on Orson Welles, the film would have been good.  By weaving in the story of WWII and the lives of the black soldiers and the Japanese Americans during the conflict, Director Wu has broadened the story making it more universal.

Mr. Welles’ story was narrated and presented using living notables such as Simon Callow, and via film clips of such personages as John Houseman.

The black soldier’s plight was told by Isaac Woodward’s family, telling the story of his treatment, not during the war, but upon his return to America following the end of the conflict.  The story of Japanese Americans was centered upon the Kakita family and told by the youngest son, Howard.

The three stories are skillfully interwoven using models, animated drawings, radio broadcasts, film clips, and still images with modern interviews to give us a more empathetic view of each.

I hope Danny Wu takes his talent and makes more stories like American: An Odyssey to 1947.  We, as Americans, need to see documentary films like this, to be reminded of where we came from and help us by giving us a fuller understanding of our past to help us better shape our future.


Director: Danny Wu

Cast: Orson Welles, Catherine L. Benamou, Gray Brechin, Simon Callow, Richard France, John Houseman, Satsuki Ina, Howard Kakita, Harlan Lebo, Mark Stoler, Todd Tarbox, Laura Williams

MPAA Rating: NR

Selig Rating:  5 Stars

Runtime: 102 Min.

Release Date: 09/08/2023 (New York – Cinema Village); 09/12/2023 (Digital)

Language: English

Trailer: AMERICAN: AN ODYSSEY TO 1947 Trailer


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.

4 Stars – Good movie/show

3 Stars – OK movie/show

2 Stars – Well, there was nothing else…

1 Star – Total waste of time.

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