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F for Fake (The Criterion Collection) (2005)

Orson Welles , Oja Kodar , Orson Welles  |  PG |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 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: 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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007M2234
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,102 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

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 50 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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23 of 25 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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12 of 12 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 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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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Revelation, and a Classic April 29, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
While I am in total agreement with all the rave reviews already here, I wanted to add one point. "F For Fake" is not only a delightful and profound film, it will also be a revelation for those who believe that Welles's later career was just one long steep decline. In its small way, "F For Fake" is as wonderful as any film Welles ever made. An absolute charmer and an unexpected late masterpiece from the man who virtually created the techniques of sound film with "Citizen Kane."
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Life is short and everyone knows that Orson Welles was a genius - flawed or otherwise - so let me say that F FOR FAKE is a great and very wise film about . . . film. It's a Mobius strip - it keeps turning back on itself so that its primary subject takes turns with secondary and tertiary characters and ultimately mirrors the film's own creator. It's a film about how the truth of art is often conveyed through lies, and vice versa.

Let me also say that the overheated editing from a variety of disparate elements and different film stocks preceded Oliver Stone's own brain-fever techniques in films like JFK, NATURAL BORN KILLERS, and NIXON by nearly twenty years. Just imagine what Welles would have produced if the circumstances of his project financing had not been so dire.

As ever, Criterion has produced a marvelous version of this "only" color film from Orson Welles (another reason to see this movie - every other Welles film was in black and white).

Buy this DVD, along with Criterion's recent release of MR. ARKADIN (complete with the original novel on which Welles based the film). Great stuff . . .
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars F For Fantastic! March 25, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Wow, what a treat for Welles fans. This is a fascinating piece of work. So interesting and the editing is excellent. Wonderful appearances by Orson to tantalise the viewer (love the trick he plays on us at the end). It's a must see. A unique type of documentary film, solely concentrating on two outrageous fakers. From the feel & look of the movie, you can tell that Welles is having the time of his life, and that's good enough for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 2 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 3 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 3 months ago by Susanna Leers
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 5 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 6 months ago by Hashima Shata
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Finish It
Orson Welles had a smug arrogance that just oozed out of every pore of his body. For "Citizen Kane" and "The Third Man" I suppose those qualities served him well. Read more
Published 9 months ago by mr. critic
5.0 out of 5 stars A Groundbreaking Film About Art, Deceit, and the Magic of Cinema
Though often described as a documentary, this movie can truly be described as more of a film essay, and is one of Welles' most groundbreaking and influential ventures. Read more
Published 10 months ago by macdougallgreen6
1.0 out of 5 stars Late and Broken
After a frustrating week waiting for my package, because Amazon used an inferior shipper, the dvd case fell to pieces as soon as I removed the shrink wrap. Really poor service. Read more
Published 10 months ago by David R Drake
5.0 out of 5 stars Orson's BEST FILM EVER!
This film really shows how talented Orson Welles was. Also he's not acting in this essay film so we get to experience Mr. Welles as he was in his everyday life. Read more
Published 12 months ago by na
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare video
I am glad I got this entertaining video. I is well edited and the way it tales the story is sort of comical. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Alex Echeverria
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