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F For Fake (Criterion Collection) back to product details

It's pretty, but is it Art?
written by Sujata August 16, 2007 - 4:30 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
This is a movie that defies genre, neither documentary nor fiction; but rather an account of one man's meditation on art, life, and the nature of truth. The man is Welles playing himself, and the truth in question is that of originality in art. The movie primarily deals with the life of one of the best known art forgers of the twentieth century, Elmyr d'Hory. His forgeries are reputed to adorn most of the great museums of the world, which display their fake Matisses in blissful ignorance. It also shows the man who chronicled Elmyr's life, and shot him to world prominence - his biographer Clifford Irving. Throughout the movie, reality and imitation blend in bewildering chaos.

I have a detailed review here:

Highly recommended.

Woah, Wow, and Wowie: F for Fake
written by pmoore May 17, 2005 - 10:32 AM PDT
11 out of 15 members found this review helpful
Man, I have no words. A quote from on of my Film Club buddies was, "It renews my faith in cinema." Another buddy commented, "It just proves that a great movie can be made anywhere with anything."

Welles took another filmmaker's documentary, cut it up, added some footage from an abandoned doc he was making, and shot some new stuff. Then he cut and cut and cut. What resulted for me was the feeling I get sometimes listening to Mozart or Coltrane when I have to stop and wonder, "How can a human brain work on so many levels exquisitely all at once?"

"F for Fake" opens with an elusive and quick cut sequence of Orson Welles' donning a black cape and a mischievous smile. He's performing snappy slide-of-hand tricks for a little boy, making his key disappear, reappear as some coins, show up in again in the kid's pocket and so on and so forth. Somehow, in a way that is difficult to describe, the rest of the film is Welles performing that same trick using film. The editing is the magician's hands and the story is the key disappearing and reappearing as a coin then showing up in a spot you didn't think it could possibly go.

There are so many great little facts about this film and it would diminish the experience of watching it to talk about them here, so I won't. To say it neatly, Welles turns upside down our day to day assumptions of what is sacred and what has value. If that's ambiguous it is deliberately so because any theme is irrelevant. This is a film to experience and I've never experienced any film like it.

"F for Fake" is Welles' last completed film. It's so fast and fresh it feels like it's made by a 25 year old prodigy. Of course, "Citizen Kane" was made by a 25 year old prodigy, but feels like the work of an old and brilliant director. Maybe that's the mark of true genius. They don't let their gift ripen on the vine, but keep picking it and letting it grow back new and fresh each time.


(Average 7.55)
144 Votes
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