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F for Fake (The Criterion Collection)

4.4 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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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.

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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

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

Product Details

  • Actors: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, François Reichenbach, Elmyr de Hory, Clifford Irving
  • 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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007M2234
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,836 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "F for Fake (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ludix VINE VOICE on March 4, 2006
Format: DVD
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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Format: Blu-ray
I am excited that Welles's absolutely sui generis examination of the con is available on Blu-ray.

The last major film Orson Welles completed, "F for Fake" is a hidden, seldom seen (except by Welles fans, which I am happy to declare myself) seventies classic that examines truth and fiction in documentary. Welles's channels his ability to be ahead of the curve. The film has a dual focus: one upon art forger Elmyr de Hory's amazing career; and another bolstered by a then-timely portrait, ever skewed, of Howard Hughs's "hoax-biographer" Clifford Irving, who set in stone the image of Hugh's decline and fall as a hirsuite, bearded OCD-riddled oddity.

For Welles's admirers, it seems there are those who love "Citizen Kane," and "The Magnificent Ambersons" and perhaps "Touch of Evil" only, and those who value "Chimes at Midnight," "Othello," and others that reveal an artist who had not peaked in his first efforts but continued to evolve throughout his amazing career.

Like Gaddis's great, labyrinthine American novel, "The Recognitions," "F Is for Fake" addresses many of the same questions, at a small, breezy 87 minute pace, and served as the film I kept checking out from university libraries when I hauled around Gaddis's entertaining if massive sprawling tome of a novel.
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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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Format: DVD
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.

Marc
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Criterion's release of this film is extremely good , but one should expect that for the price . They seem to have access to people and other supporting materials that other companies do not , but then again I'm sure these are factored in to the price .

Whilst being a fan of Criterion , I certainly do not buy all their releases , as I don't have that much disposable income .

Also , some of the films are not to my taste .

I don't wish to view a film simply because it is well regarded by critics , among other reasons .

Being a Welles fan and owning some of the Criterion Welles laserdiscs , I was very keen to own their first Welles-directed DVD . I was not disappointed .

This film is of its own genre and is interesting because of Welles's appreach - the film seems to have a personality itself . It is by no means serious - I find it fascinating in parts . Subjects like fakes and fraudulence need to be explored . Some great points are made about the art world and its pretensions , which I really enjoyed .

The documentary about Welles's unfinished projects is worth the price on its own , so if you don't like the film buy it for that feature .

This DVD comes highly recommended , to say the least.

It is not on the same level as other Welles films , but it is worth your while if you are a fan .
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Society consists of symbols with a wide range of meanings within the world. The alphabet is one of most commonly used code systems of symbols. The letters in the alphabet have the power to form words and every single word has a meaning. When a number of words such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives fuse together, they form a sentence. The structure of a sentence is to produce a contextual meaning, which sometimes uses symbolism to enhance the sentences in regards to the theme of the topic. Several joined sentences create a paragraph, which usually focuses on one idea that also could be a symbol. A number of ideas compiled into a narrative form makes a thesis for readers to contemplate, which could help the person either assimilate, or adapt the new ideas to previous knowledge and wisdom. This is due to the notion that new ideas comprise a symbolic meaning for the individual. Orson Welles seems to have used this concept when he made the film, F for Fake.

F for Fake playfully utilizes every single scene while maximizing the symbolic value of words, images, and behavior among the individuals portrayed in the film. These scenes offer several representational impressions to the audience, as Welles' meticulous editing seems to have the same meaning a typewriter has to a writer. In this sense, F for Fake does not offer a conventional film or documentary, as Welles uses both authentic film clips edited with stage performances. Instead, Welles advocates his ideas in neither a fictionalized nor a non-documentary manner, as he fuses these two into a notion of deceit, forgery, trickery, and any other way that could deceive the audience.
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