Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 236: Fri Aug 24

F For Fake (Welles, 1975): BFI Southbank, on extended run to September 20

Chicago Reader review:
'Orson Welles's underrated 1973 essay film—made from discarded documentary footage by Francois Reichenbach and new material from Welles—forms a kind of dialectic with Welles's never-completed It's All True. The main subjects are art forger Elmyr de Hory, Clifford Irving, Howard Hughes, Pablo Picasso, Welles himself, and the practice and meaning of deception. Despite some speculation that this film was Welles's indirect reply to Pauline Kael's bogus contention that he didn't write a word of Citizen Kane, his sly commentary—seconded by some of the trickiest editing anywhere—implies that authorship is a pretty dubious notion anyway, a function of the even more dubious art market and its team of “experts.” Alternately superficial and profound, the film also enlists the services of Oja Kodar, Welles's principal collaborator after the late 60s, as actor, erotic spectacle, and cowriter, and briefer appearances by many other Welles cohorts. Michel Legrand supplies the wonderful score.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the most impressive part of the film, Welles' paean to Chartres Cathedral.

Here are Welles's words: 'Now this has been standing here for centuries. The premier work of man perhaps in the whole western world and it’s without a signature: Chartres. A celebration to God’s glory and to the dignity of man. All that’s left most artists seem to feel these days, is man. Naked, poor, forked, radish. There aren’t any celebrations. Ours, the scientists keep telling us, is a universe, which is disposable. You know it might be just this one anonymous glory of all things, this rich stone forest, this epic chant, this gaiety, this grand choiring shout of affirmation, which we choose when all our cities are dust, to stand intact, to mark where we have been, to testify to what we had it in us, to accomplish. Our works in stone, in paint, in print are spared, some of them for a few decades, or a millennium or two, but everything must finally fall in war or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash. The triumphs and the frauds, the treasures and the fakes. A fact of life. We’re going to die. “Be of good heart,” cry the dead artists out of the living past. Our songs will all be silenced – but what of it? Go on singing. Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much. (Church bells peal…)'

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