F For Fake (Masters Of Cinema) DVD
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Directed by Orson Welles
Produced in 1974
Main Language - ENGLISH
A dazzling, capricious study of the nature of forgery, assembled by Orson Welles in a frenzy of non-linear editing, F for Fake is studded with convoluted but good-natured transgressions that serve to leave the viewer pleasantly jarred and happily bewildered.
F for Fake came to life when Welles hijacked a documentary on the notorious art forger Elmyr de Hory and embellished it with staged and real scenes concerning literary ‘faker’ Clifford Irving, Welles’ own career and a lively titbit about Pablo Picasso’s relationship with actress Oja Kodar. What is particularly fascinating about all this is the deliberately confessional parallels Welles draws between the profiled forgers and his own mercurial background; with a wry smile and mischievous eyes, the ebullient director gently dissects how he ‘started at the top and worked his way down,’ relying – in his best moments – as much on spin, deception and out-and-out charlatanism as on talent and innovation. Indeed, even his landmark 1938 radio adaptation of War of the Worlds could be described as a staggering hoax. But this is not to diminish Welles’ achievements. After all, as the great man concludes: “Art forgery is to be admired as an art.”
And for all its jiggery pokery, F for Fake betrays a cinematic talent that was still, in many ways, ahead of its time: at times even the frantically prismatic editing looks as if it is struggling to keep up with the flow of Welles’ ideas. One can only speculate on what wonders the director could have conjured up with modern digital editing techniques at his disposal (he could perhaps have sustained a more satisfying career in the lower-cost, user-friendly DV age).
Of course, in keeping with the nature of the premise, nothing here is quite what it seems. Quite how much of the film is actually Welles’ has been debated (the Hory scenes were shot by Francois Reichenbach for a TV documentary). F for Fake, then, should be taken with a large pinch of salt. But that shouldn’t serve to spoil what is – a tastily piquant – albeit unclassifiable - later work from the legendary man.
Julian Upton on 18th December 2006
Author of 168 reviews
A quintessentially Wellesian meditation on illusionism in all its forms. Portraits of art forger Elmyr de Hory and Clifford Irving - forger of an autobiography by Howard Hughes, intermingle with Welles' own reflections on artistic originality and authenticity to produce a dazzling, dizzying film essay on that ultimate imitation of life - the cinema.
Publisher: Eureka / Masters of Cinema
Length: 85 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 26th February 2007
Cat No: EKA40212
- Glorious new progressive transfer from hi-def restoration
- Exclusive audio commentary by the film's cinematographer Gary Graver and Bill Krohn
- Jonathan Rosenbaum on F for Fake - a 28 minute video piece
- 40 page booklet plus hidden easter egg of the restored trailer for F for Fake!