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F for Fake (The Criterion Collection) (2005)

Orson Welles , Oja Kodar , Orson Welles  |  PG |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, Joseph Cotten, François Reichenbach, Richard Wilson
  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Writers: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar
  • Producers: François Reichenbach, Dominique Antoine, Richard Drewitt
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: April 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007M2234
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,513 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "F for Fake (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Video Introduction by director Peter Bogdanovich
  • Audio commentary featuring director of photography Gary Graver
  • Orson Welles: One-Man Band (1988), an hour-long investigation of Welles's unfinished projects
  • Almost True, a 1992 Norwegian Film Institute documentary on art forger Elmyr de Hory
  • 10-minute trailer
  • New essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Trickery. Deceit. Magic. In Orson Welles' free-form documentary, the legendary filmmaker (and self-described charlatan) gleefully engages the central preoccupation of his career-the tenuous line between truth and illusion, art and lies. Beginning with portraits of world-renowned art forger Elmyr de Hory and his equally devious biographer, Clifford Irving, Welles goes on a dizzying cinematic journey that simultaneously exposes and revels in fakery and fakers of all stripes-not the least of which is Welles himself. Charming and poignant, F for Fake is an inspired prank and a searching examination of the essential duplicity of cinema. Criterion's two-disc DVD edition also features an introduction by Peter Bogdanovich, audio commentary by director of photography Gary Graver, an hour long documentary on Welles' unfinished projects, a documentary on the life and works of de Hory, and the theatrical trailer.

To call Orson Welles's F For Fake a documentary would be somewhat deceitful, but deceit itself is very much the subject of this curious film essay. Welles ruminates on the nature of artistic fakery through two examples, that of infamous art forger Elmyr de Hory and the writer Clifford Irving, whose bogus autobiography of Howard Hughes set off a minor media flurry in the 1970s. Postmodernist that he is, Wells then proceeds to narrate and edit the film in such a perversely frenetic way as to blur the lines between what is real and what is deception, making for an often confusing but engaging work of art in itself. We even see the footage we've been watching as it's being spliced together in Welles's editing room. The specter of Welles's often maligned later career hangs over the proceedings like a challenge--is he going to actually complete this strange movie about chicanery, or will it become one of the many unfinished experiments of his twilight years? Happily, Welles concludes the proceedings with a delightful sequence about Picasso, lust, and what constitutes real art. F For Fake is a fine example of a master filmmaker who had at least a couple tricks left up his sleeve. --Ryan Boudinot

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
I thoroughly enjoyed this amusing quasi-documentary. But then, I'd sit through 90 minutes of Orson Welles sitting in front of a white sheet talking about anything. Has there ever been a more spellbinding narrative voice? His voice-over for the trailer of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE made it sound like the Second Coming of Christ!

Some of the other reviewers here sound as if they could use some Ex-Lax. Chill out, will ya? This isn't supposed to be a profound statement. The old man's just having a little fun.

Having said this, I will immediately contradict myself by noting that the scene in which Welles ruminates on the longevity of art while contemplating Chartres Cathedral touched me deeply. In the context of his tattered career, and the ever-growing stature of his masterpiece CITIZEN KANE, it suggests that Welles at last attained some measure of peace with his life and achievements.

The DVD itself looks and sounds terrific.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PHEW! TALK ABOUT A MASTERPIECE! August 28, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Orson Welles' only color film is THE ULTIMATE PROOF OF 'MISE EN SCENE' HAPPENING AT THE EDITING STAGE. Most of this film was shot by Francois Reichenbach before Welles got involved with it. Reichenbach didn't know what to do with his footage--how to best put it all together--so he asked Welles, whom he greatly admired, to see what he could do. Welles shot some scenes featuring himself to go around the documentary footage, came up with a narrative concept and EDITED everthing. The result? WELLES' PERSONALITY TOOK OVER. This is unmistakably a film that only Orson Welles could make. Welles uses his ingenious narration and every trick known to film editing to weave a philosophical meditation on the nature of truth and lies that has DEEP universal significance, but also particularly applies to the nature of all 'ART-ifice.' It's a very intellectual as well as supremely entertaining film which requires at least 5 viewings to even begin to be appreciated.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cinematic Juggling Act February 18, 2008
Format:VHS Tape
His last major work as a filmmaker, Orson Welles' "F for Fake" (1973) survives as a rough-edged yet provocative essay on the art of fraud. In this instance, we have three noted subjects: art forger extraordinaire Elmyr de Hory, Clifford Irving (the novelist who conned the world as Howard Hughes' "authorized biographer") and Welles himself. Editing plays a vital role as the Great Orson maintains his semi-documentary juggling act for 90 minutes. Fittingly enough, "F for Fake" reveals more about the creator of "Citizen Kane" than the minor curiosities he examines. Welles ends his cinematic odyssey with an affectionate wink.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT IF THERE WERE NO "EXPERTS"? January 2, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
With all the fury and venom expended on the question of what is art, this excellent film of Welles should be required viewing. Welles reminds us that, ultimately, the only art critic you need to worry about is yourself. Listen very carefully in this film to Welles recitation of Rudyard Kipling's poem; the crux of this film is contained in those lines. We are, each of us, Masters and Artists. What does it matter what anyone else thinks? Secondly, this film is also a little frightening. Almost 30 years after its making the tyranny of "experts" in everything from litigation to art continues to confound us. We continue to sacrifice common sense and our own autonomy to the "experts" . Finally, this film is just plain fun. Fake? EVERYTHING IS FAKE... everything is art... in spite of "experts".
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man who loved movie making June 15, 2005
By Meve
I agree with most of the above but for me the best part of this excellent package is the "One Man Band" (Known in Europe as "The Lost Films Of Orson Welles".

It's an 88 minute look at a person truly in love with the art of movie making and I found it very touching and remarkable.

As an additional surprise some of the scraps of home shot movie included the finest acting I've seen from Welles. They also showed an acting range I had not realised he was capable of and hearing his offscreen direction of Oja was fascinating.

A very nice experience.

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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It should get 6 stars, if that were possible December 2, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
There is no Orson Welles movie, no matter how influential and well regarded, that I love more than this master piece. This is Orson Welles at his best: just chating along in an entertaining, funny, witty, profound way, teaching you so much about himself, about humanity and about Life, as if it was just a walk in the park - he makes it look so easy to be a genius.
If I had to choose the proverbial film I would take with me to a deserted island, this would be the one. This is the guy I want to talk to forever if I'm ever allowed in whatever Paradise he's in now.
This is all anyone needs to love the movies and Orson Welles. It is the one that will convert you into thinking you can't really have one without the other.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Welles, A Real Gem... May 12, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film is perhaps my absolute favorite by Orson Welles as he co starred and edited this rather complex movie/documentary on forgers and the craft of forging. Set in far flung 70's hot spots such as Ibiza, Las Vegas, and Nassau, this film is carefully edited in such a way as to provide a fast paced, entertaining look into the seamy underside of the art and publishing worlds in the late 60's and early 70's. Welles even had the stones to include his mistress Oja Kodar as his co-star in his own piece of trickery as displayed in this fast paced masterpiece. This is a great film for anyone who watched Richard Gere in "The Hoax" and who would desire to know the real story of Clifford Irving. A great film by a master of the art!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars "F for Fantastic"
One of the great tragedies of American Cinema is that Orson Welles did not get the opportunity to make more films. Another great tragedy is that many have not seen this one. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Roger A. Reed
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring! Incoherent editing. Missed opportunity to document a wonderful...
This movie is so incoherent that it's BORING. I guess the intent was to do something artistic and splice together a bunch of segments like a collage. It quickly gets VERY tiresome. Read more
Published 2 months ago by The Thinker
5.0 out of 5 stars Welles at His Finest
If you love films that challenge you to see the world differently, then this one is for you. I would argue that this is Welles at the height of his craft, calling out and exposing... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jordan Brady
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film
Welles would be a great reality and documentary film maker today and he was way ahead of his time. I really enjoyed this film.
Published 4 months ago by Mark A. Aman
3.0 out of 5 stars F for failure to fulfill
This was a very fragmented tale of an art faker with accompanying support "cast". Orson Welles was responsible for it and it was very much in his style, but some of the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by D Zattau
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a documentary, a film essay
I loved the structure of this film. Very often documentaries profess to be just telling it like it is, giving you the straight dope when actually they're leaving out another side... Read more
Published 8 months ago by James Tetreault
2.0 out of 5 stars F for Fake
So so documentary style with some fantasy. Not the best film by Orson Welles by a long shot. It is different though.
Published 9 months ago by Little Buddy
2.0 out of 5 stars Off-putting puffed-up snobbery...
detracts from an interesting documentary about a successful European art forger. Unfortunately the story is drowned in a tsunami of Bain de Soleil, sunglasses and bikinis- the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars My Friend Elmyr "Victor Mory" D'Hory
Initially, I have been a long time admirer of Orson Welles and have enjoyed just about everything he had been involved with. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Allan S. Park
4.0 out of 5 stars orson welles at his surealist best
This is a vehicle film for the display of film making prowses of the late , great, Orson Welles . One can watch it as a spoof documentary, or as a cinematic magic show, or as a... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Hashima Shata
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