Orson Welles – born May 6th, 1995
There are many films that blend fact with fiction, blurring the line between art and life until you are no longer certain which is imitating which. Often they are feature films that have a documentary component, or feature non-professional actors playing themselves in a re-telling of their own story (Makhmalbaf’s The Apple and Kiarostami’s Close-Up and 10 spring to mind).
However, rarely does a film-maker tell you straight up that the documentary you’re about to watch intentionally bends the truth, blending fraud with fact.
Directed by, co-written by and starring Orson Welles – in what was his last major film – F for Fake is a creative documentary investigating the ideas underpinning the value of art, as well as ideas of authorship and authenticity.
At the centre of the film is Elmyr de Hory, a notorious art forger who claims to have paintings hanging in famous galleries all over the world, attributed to some of the most famous artists – Picasso, Matisse etc. The film also features Clifford Irving who, unknown to Welles at the start of shooting, had perpetrated a hoax of his own, namely by writing a fabricated ‘authorized biography’ of the reclusive film/aviation mogul, Howard Hughes (see the film The Hoax). Welles, who had a long-time appreciation for magic and illusions, performs continual sleights of hand throughout the film – including magic tricks of his own, drumming home the point that, here, nothing is as it seems and that, sometimes, believing our eyes is a sure way to deception.
F for Fake (1793)
Other Birthday Boy Classics:
The Third Man (1949)
Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Touch of Evil (1958)
Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Chimes at Midnight (1965)
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