F for Fake (Vérités et mensonges) (1973)

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Released 20-May-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Dr. Adrian Martin - Senior Researcher Fellow, Film and Telev
Featurette-Documentary - Orson Welles: The One Man Band
Booklet-16 page - Appetite for Deconstruction by Dr. Adrian Danks
Teaser Trailer-Madman, Director's Suite Trailers
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 85:03
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Orson Welles
Studio
Distributor
Beta Film GmbH
Madman Entertainment
Starring Orson Welles
Oja Kodar
Elmyr de Hory
Clifford Irving
Joseph Cotten
François Reichenbach
Richard Wilson
Paul Stewart
Alexander Welles
Gary Graver
Andrés Vicente Gómez
Julio Palinkas
Christian Odasso
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Michel Legrand


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.59:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.59:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The work of the forger is still very much alive in the art world - and probably always will be. These "artists" are capable of duplicating great works of art with such perfection that they often even fool the original artist. But fakes aren't just limited to the art world. These days anything that is expensive and desirable in the mass market is faked - or at least, attempted to be faked. Like great art forgeries, most of this fake merchandise is so accurate it can easily trap and con the most careful consumer. But before consumer based forgeries became common place, the clandestine business of art forgery was flourishing and one man in particular held prominence. His name was Elmyr de Hory and in 1974 he became the main focus of a film essay by Orson Welles titled, F for Fake. The film is often described as a documentary and in many ways it is. But F for Fake is far more than your common documentary. Its unique narrative style and creative editing certainly display the Orson Welles signature.

     Welles was fascinated by the life of serial art forger, Elmyr de Hory. He had complete access to footage of de Hory from a 1970 documentary titled, Elmyr - The True Picture, which was directed by his friend and collaborator, François Reichenbach. As a matter of coincidence, this material also contained interview footage with de Hory's biographer, a man called Clifford Irving. Irving had written an informative book about de Hory's forgery activities titled, Fake. This would inadvertently give Welles another perfect subject for his film, but not for that reason. Clifford Irving not only wrote a book about a faker, he became one himself. His much celebrated autobiography of billionaire Howard Hughes was uncovered as a complete fake. Irving falsely claimed to have full collaboration with Hughes in ghost writing his autobiography. Suddenly, all this wonderful footage of Elmyr de Hory and Clifford Irving turned to gold.

     F for Fake gives intelligent and light-hearted insight into not only these two men, but the world of fakery in general. Orson Welles uses Reichenbach's original 16mm footage in conjunction with his own "new" 35mm footage, thus creating a clear distinction between the two. Welles also narrates and hosts the film, conveying information with wonderful originality and charisma. He introduces his real life partner, Oja Kodar, early in the film with the promise that her story will be revealed later - a tale worth waiting for.

     Orson Welles himself was no stranger to the practice of fakery. In the 1930's his infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast caused panic on a massive scale. It was, of course, pure fabrication, a practical joke, a fake. Rest assured, in F for Fake Mr. Welles has some surprises in store for his audience. But then, you would expect nothing less from the master auteur.

Footnote: For those interested, in 2006, Lasse Hallström directed a feature film, which is based on Clifford Irving's fake autobiography of Howard Hughes. The film is titled, The Hoax and it stars Richard Gere in the lead role.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     F for Fake is presented letterboxed in an aspect ratio of 1.63:1, which is not 16x9 enhanced. This is very close to the film’s correct aspect ratio of 1.61:1.

     All things considered, the quality of image on this edition of F for Fake is really quite good. With footage from so many different sources, it's only natural that the image would vary considerably. Much of the older existing footage is quite grainy, while the specifically shot footage is noticeably cleaner and sharper. Blacks were clean and shadow detail was generally good. For the same reasons previously mentioned, colours also varied in intensity. In terms of the transfer quality, colours were beautifully balanced with no adverse issues. I didn't notice any MPEG artefacts and film-to-video artefacts were not significant. Film artefacts were present throughout the film. Thankfully though, they were quite minor and not a major distraction. These artefacts were mainly fine scratches in the film and were more noticeable early in the piece.

     Although the cover art states this edition has English subtitles, they are only present during passages of foreign dialogue.

     This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. The layer change occurs at 3:47 during the Orson Welles: The One Man Band documentary and is very well placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are two audio tracks available on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s) and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s).

     Dialogue quality was very good throughout and despite a couple of lapses in ADR, the audio sync was also good. The original music by Michel Legrand is fun and light-hearted, providing appropriate accompaniment to general theme of the film. The surround channels and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The main menu is nicely animated with sound and is 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary - Dr. Adrian Martin (Senior Researcher Fellow, Film and Television Studies, Monash University and Co-editor of Rouge Magazine)

     Adrian Martin has recorded a few audio commentaries for various Madman DVD titles. I remember listening to his commentary on the Buñuel classic, The Exterminating Angel. As was the case there, his commentary on F for Fake is relevant and informative. His commentary offers great insight into the background of the film and the life of Orson Welles in general. Well worth a listen.

Featurette - Orson Welles: The One Man Band (87:38)

     This feature-length documentary is also included on the two-disc Criterion edition of F for Fake. It was made in 1995 by Vassili Silovic and Welles' partner in life, Oja Kodar. This documentary is essential viewing for any admirer of Orson Welles. It concentrates on the many unfinished projects that Welles had in various stages of development and production prior to his death. Oja Kodar shows us around their villa, discussing the projects and Welles' vision of them. The documentary also features generous clips from many of the projects including The Deep (which was made by Phillip Noyce in 1989 as Dead Calm) and The Other Side of the Wind.

Booklet - Appetite for Deconstruction: Orson Welles' F for Fake by Dr. Adrian Danks.

Dr. Adrian Danks is Head of Cinema Studies at the School of Applied Communication, RMIT University and Co-curator of the Melbourne Cinémathèque. This "Criterion style" booklet is an interesting read and a great finishing touch to an excellent DVD presentation. I wish more distributors took similar pride in the overall presentation of a film to DVD or Blu-ray.

Director's Suite Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The most obvious edition to compare this Madman edition to is the two-disc, region free Criterion release. This set was released in April 2005 and contains the following extras:

     It's pretty rare that a Criterion edition loses out and there is no exception here. Despite the obvious advantages of the Criterion set, I believe the local Madman release is an excellent edition and worthy of any DVD collection.

Summary

     F for Fake was the last film Orson Welles made for the cinema. While the disjointed style of this film may hinder some audiences, it's certainly worth a little patience - this is Mr. Welles at his most mischievous. F for Fake is a fascinating and, importantly, a fun film about the world of fakery. This Director's Suite edition from Madman is highly recommended.

     The video and audio transfers are very good. The selection of extras is worthy and relevant.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35 Blu Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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