F for Fake (1974)
The final directorial project the legendary Orson Welles completed during his lifetime, F for Fake is less a documentary than an example of cinematic free association on the topic of trickery. Much of the film is in fact drawn from other sources, most notably an unfinished documentary by Francois Reichenbach on the notorious Elmyr de Hory, whose extremely skillful forgeries of famous paintings caused scandals amongst art collectors and experts. In an additional bit of irony, de Hory's interviewer is author Clifford Irving, who became infamous due to a forgery of his own: a falsified autobiography of Howard Hughes. Welles openly re-edits and manipulates this footage, using it as a spine for his own commentary, arguing that there is an extremely close relationship between art and lying, and citing instances from his own career to prove the point. Through a combination of documentary and staged footage, Welles attempts to illustrate the artifice behind all filmmaking, even that of a supposedly non-fiction variety. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for F for Fake
A triumphantly self-amused, self-aware reflection on the verities of art and creativity and the lies that sustain them.
A singular combination of documentary, essay, narrative, broad comedy, hoax, and cinematic vaudeville.
A charming, witty meditation upon fakery, forgery, swindling and art, a movie that may itself be its own Exhibit A.
Welcome to the philosophical fun house that is F for Fake, stuffed full of questions about the nature of art and authorship, illusion and reality, lies and truth.
It's a dynamic piece of filmmaking that doubles as a sleight-of-hand act.
At times T for tedious and P for pretentious, the film remains essential viewing for admirers of the great cineaste and showman.
It tells us that what we like is just fine and that the value is art is measured in something other than currency, though in this case the price of a cinema ticket will do nicely.
F for Fake is a minor work in some ways, but there is fascination and poignancy in seeing Welles's elegant retreat into this hall of mirrors.
Thirty-two years after he unfolded the cinematic pop-up book that was Citizen Kane, Orson Welles collapsed the entire medium in on itself with this irresistible 1973 film essay on art and fakery.
So rich, ripe and tricksy you'll need to give this one multiple sweeps.
Welles was to claim, 'I believe a work is good to the degree that it expresses the man who created it' and, by that standard, F for Fake must be a masterpiece.
Less heralded than some of Welles' other work, F For Fake is still a fascinating examination of authenticity and authorship.
Welles' assurance that you will be enthralled by his every word and oversized gesture is so arrogant, so refreshingly contemptuous, that you'd give him a round of applause, if you weren't sure he was doing that for himself every time he called, "cut."
gives the viewer the feeling that he's in Welles's expansive company...while he considers and pontificates on a pet topic. That in itself is a privilege, and reason enough to check out F for Fake
...a digressive, playful and at times profound essay on the nature of authenticity and the fluid boundaries between art and decoration, between inspiration and imitation.
A little gem, full of vintage Welles ruminations on the ephemeral nature of personal celebrity and the elusiveness of ultimate truth.
An almost impossibly lively pastiche of images and ideas that never tires.
Audience Reviews for F for Fake
A totally unique experience, master director/actor (etc.) Orson Welles creates his late masterpiece with his expose on trickery.More
A documentary/essay about the art of trickery. Opening with a series of magic tricks, performed by Welles himself, the movie explores two characters who became famous for lying, for tricking others, and by doing it pretty damn well. Very engaging, fun, you can see this as the blue print for many modern documentaries that use a similar style of "free" narrative/performance mode. Movies are a form of fakery after all, Welles is the first one to call himself a charlatan, and with great wit he takes us to this fantastic voyage of illusions, a house of mirrors. What matters is not things being "real" or "fake", but how interesting, appealing and well made they can be.More
Exit Through the Gift Shop's grandpappy in the fields of cinematic subversion and grappling with "art." I found it sort of dry, as a matter of personal taste, but in terms of objective craftsmanship it's thoughtful and academic and a brilliant note for Orson Welles to close his career on. Hugely valuable.More
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