Sunday, February 03, 2013

F for Fake

Directed and starring Orson Welles with a script written with Oja Kodar, F for Fake is a loosely-based documentary on the works of forger Elmyr de Hory that ponders whether his work is real or fake. Notably as it explores an array of different narratives involving the works of this man. The result is a fascinating yet bizarre film from Orson Welles.

The film is about the study of hoaxes and forgery where Welles profiles famed forger Elmyr de Hory, the film’s co-writer Oja Kodar, and author Cliff Irving. Individuals who are known for creating these elaborate hoaxes and forgeries. Elmyr de Hory is known to recreate paintings where he’s made a lot of money based on forgeries while getting art experts wondering if these paintings are real or not. Kodar is a woman who is known for her unique sexuality where she’s attracted the attention of Pablo Picasso. Irving is famous for a hoax he made about the existence of the notorious Howard Hughes. The big question that is raised in this film is that are any of these stories real? Are they really fictional? Are they just mere exaggerations?

Welles never reveals about those things though Irving’s hoax is actually true since he did make an elaborate hoax about the re-emergence of Howard Hughes. The film also reveals that Welles himself is a forger since he started his career in Ireland claiming he was a big-time actor from New York while his infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast is one of the great pranks ever made. The film is essentially a prank of sorts that includes an elaborate sequence of men staring at Kodar walking around Paris though it is revealed that they’re instructed to look at her. Then there’s the subject of Elmyr de Hory as he is just this unique artist who lives comfortably in Ibiza where he is able to recreate famous paintings though he is under the watch of authorities who are upset over his forgeries.

While the film also has Welles claiming that he’s about to tell the truth for an hour, does he really tell the truth? Well, it doesn’t really matter as the people he profiles are just as interesting as he is while Welles gets to reflect on his own work with appearances by Ray Collins and Joseph Cotten as they talk about Welles’ ability to be a prankster. Welles also gets the chance to do magic as he’s also a well-respected magician. With the help of cinematographers Gary Graver, Christian Odasso, and Francois Reichenbach, Welles is able to capture the beauty of the locations with some scenes that are very stylized.

One aspect of the film that is unique is in the editing by Marie-Sophie Dubus and Dominique Engerer. It is very stylized to present this sense of chaos that occurs throughout the film with a fast-cutting style that would become prevalent in the films of the 1980s. Largely as it’s to convey the idea that reality and fiction is blurred. With the sound mixing of Paul Bertault and the jazzy music score of Michel Legrand, the film does have this unique tone that is mysterious but also humorous as it plays to the sense of blur of whether anything that Welles is saying is true or not.

F for Fake is a marvelous film from Orson Welles. The film is definitely one of the most unique films that explores the world of forgery and hoaxes while refusing to define itself as fiction or a documentary. It’s also one of Welles’ great films as it reveals his unique ideas about art as well as the art of creating pranks. In the end, F for Fake is a phenomenal film from Orson Welles.

Orson Welles Films: Citizen Kane - The Magnificent Ambersons - The Stranger (1946 film) - The Lady from Shanghai - Macbeth (1948 film) - Othello (1952 film) - Mr. Arkadin - Touch of Evil - The Trial (1962 film) - Chimes at Midnight - The Immortal Story - Filming OthelloThe Other Side of the Wind

Related: Orson Welles: The One-Man Band - The Eyes of Orson Welles - They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead - The Auteurs #69: Orson Welles: Part 1 - Part 2

© thevoid99 2013

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