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F FOR FAKE

France / Iran / Germany, 1973 (MIFF 1996, Retrospecta)

Director: Orson Welles

As the documentary Orson Welles: One Man Band shows, this great director carried an editing table with him wherever he travelled, This tool of his trade is displayed by Welles in F For Fake with the same childlike zest that Dziga Vertov conveyed in Man with a Movie Camera. F for Fake is not merely a dazzlingly edited film, creating vectors of speed, energy and invention that put most films to shame. It is about editing -about articulation, combination, juxtaposition of image and sound fragments-and thus, like every Welles film, about conjuring and magic.

In cinema history, F for Fake stands like a lighthouse between the grand old era of the 'montage film' and the modern practice of the 'essay film'. Welles has rigorously 'worked' his : material into the form of a personal reflection. Art, fakery and authorship are the loose topics ; of this dancing essay, which was triggered by a fortuitous conjunction of events. The celebrated documentary film maker Francois Reichenbach had shot footage of the art forger Elmyr de Hory, including comments from his biographer. Clifford Irving; no one but Irving knew at the time that he had just perpetrated his own. superb hoax, an 'autobiography' by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes.

This material is merely Welles's launch-pad. He ranges far and wide through the philosophy and politics of fakery, from personal coups (including, of course, the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast of 1938) to the paradox of an artist's 'signature' (culminating in a beautiful segment devoted to the Chartres Catherdral). Meanwhile, Welles is busy planting his own red herrings and hoaxes, preying mercilessly on our gullibility. F for Fake is a rare treat (AM)

See also...

FILMING OTHELLO BY ORSON WELLES

Sitting at the moviola, Orson Welles runs through scenes from his 1951 film, Othello, gives his interpretation of the play, and tells of the difficulties he encountered in producing the film. ... He ... More »

TOUCH OF EVIL

This print, presented by courtesy of CIC, is the full version of Touch of Evil, which was cut by 15 minutes when released in 1958. ... Special narcotics investigator for the Mexican Ministry of ... More »

OTHELLO

Othello was filmed over many months, in ... many places and under trying conditions. ... The start was made in 1949: rehearsals in ... Paris, costumes fitted in Rome, players sum- ... moned to ... More »

MACBETH

Shot in 23 days at the Republic Studios in Hollywood on a budget of $ 50 000. Orson Welles' adaptation of Shakespeare's ... play has been restored by the Film Archives at the University of ... More »

It's All True: Four Men on a Raft

In 1942, after completing principal photography on The Magnificent Ambersons and before beginning Journey Into Fear, Orson Welles began shooting three episodes for an anthology film to be titled It's ... More »

The Skladanowsky Brothers' Wintergarten Programme

... ... On November 1, 1895, Max and Emil Sklad­anowsky presented their new invention, the projection of a programme of 'living images'. The performers in this programme were artistes appearing ... More »

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