The story of the professional art forger Elmyr de Hory, in Orson Welles’s interpretation, turns into a multilayered feature-length report where the director takes on the alias of a narrator-trickster, while telling his own story.
In the autobiographical part of this adventure documentary, Orson Welles recalls his infamous prewar radio drama The War of the Worlds (1938) which has since become an exemplary case in any book about media. It allegedly caused mass panic in America—following a radio announcement about the Martian invasion of Earth. By embedding himself into the complicated classification of fakers, the director makes the fake an integral part of cinematic imagery.
According to Deleuze, the difference between the fakers and experts on the one hand, and artists on the other, is the former’s inability to change and utilize all the possibilities of the false, while the artists, in contrast, use it as a means of transforming themselves. The options of the false and the power of the lie combine to create an illusion which replaces truth, bringing life back to vitality and openness. That’s why the truth never emerges in reality, abiding in the shimmering virtual reality instead. Deleuze is uncompromising here: “There is no other truth than the creation of the New…”.
F for Fake.
Dir. Orson Welles, 85 minutes, USA,