Documentary, by Mike Richardson, 15 September 2012

Director: Orson Welles

Stars: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, Elmyr De Hory

Country: USA

Runtime: 88 mins

Release Date:

Language: English

F for Fat
Everyone knows the tragic story of Orson Welles, the huge character who started at the top of cinema, with Citizen Kane and slowly and steadily worked his way down throughout his career until he was providing the voice-overs for Findus frozen peas and Carlsberg lager.

F for Fake

F for Fake

F for fantastic
Therefore F for Fake is the sort of film that they just don’t make any more, as it’s more of a cinematic experience than a straightforward A is followed by B which precedes C documentary. The film operates in several different genres and has been described as a kind of film essay. Every burgeoning film editor should be made to watch the opening “girl watching” sequence to learn not only the basics of editing, but also how to convey a message through the screen.

F for Film
F for fake was originally released in 1974, it claims to be a documentary on Elmyr de Hory’s recounting of his career as a professional art forger. Instead De Hory’s story merely serves as the backdrop for a fast-paced, meandering investigation of the natures of art, authorship and authenticity, in life and in cinema.
Mischievous Welles the narrator/director/showman challenges the viewer to “watch out for the slightest hint of hanky-panky,” while promising that everything you see in the next hour is based on solid fact, (which it is). Welles, who never spoke down to or patronised his audience, called F for Fake “a film about trickery and fraud.”

F for Frenzied
Several narratives are woven together throughout F for Fake, as well as the de Hory story, we see Clifford Irving the man who wrote Howard Hughes’ autobiography, Orson Welles and his War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast , Pablo Picasso and Oja Kodar (Welles’ real life girlfriend).

F for Fabulous
Besides the globetrotting, the parties and the fine dining there is a lot of Welles sitting at his editing desk as he narrates. This is hardly surprising as F for Fake became almost as much of a labour of love as Don Quixote, that saw Welles work seven days a week for an entire year on the final cut.

F for Fraudulent
Welles was never one to let the facts get in the way of a good story and F for Fake is possibly the best example of that as many of the interviewees in the film were people who were directly involved with forgery (in one way or another) often making untrue statements which would have been known by the filmmaker to be false. However this only adds to the film’s charm as Welles constructs a filmic essay using misdirection, deception and deceit to give us an entertaining 90+ minutes in the company of the world’s greatest quatorzieme.

F for Final
F for Fake turned out to be Orson Welles last movie and it is a fitting epitaph for the great man. One day there will be a documentary about a theatre land wonder child who made, arguably the greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane at the start of a cinematic career and ended it as the voice of the mega-computer in Transformers the (animated) Movie. However it’s the sort of thing that proves that fact is stranger than fiction, and would fit right in with F for Fake.

F for Fake Trailer

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