F for Fake: the Bend of Essay Film

The Curve of Essay Film

F for Fake, directed by Orson Welles in 1973, sees a decade bend from an essay film. Nothing caught on better than Tony Zhou or Every Frame a Painting explaining how the film becomes the focus of creating an essay. Talking about essays, either out of ignorance or a virtue, spearheads many technicalities from an aesthetic and narrative point of view. It is hardly imagined about the medium. The quasi-documentary tells about the imposter, the fact, the fake, about how all essays and video essays proliferate on the internet until today.

Welles could well say how essay films call F for Fake a misleading label rather than a documentary. Regardless of the elements of an essay, documentary, or fiction, he, on the one hand, may meet specific requirements in the examination of an extensive essay formation. Regardless of which, sincerity cannot claim how the film is on the same level. Welles’ most public and private qualifications hide in plain sight the vast majority of unlimited wealth. However, it does not mean that critics and essayists can judge the film by the kind of yardsticks which most people and cinephiles have. It could be, it left the way Welles wants to take the same artistic approach as his films in general.

The Simplistic Sequence

The film starts with a series of magic trips by Orson Welles. He emphasized how a magician is nothing more than an actor in playing a role. In essence, the magician on stage is just an illusion like the audience thinks that movies are fiction. He begins to emphasize with one example: a vintage girl carrying her things in a miniskirt along the way. He explains how the story of the girl in the short skirt and the men watching the girl is experimental.

More clearly, a filmmaker can frame the subject’s actions out of context. The reaction looks at another issue while the camera does not side with the matter of response. Joshua Oppenheimer used the Welles method in his film entitled The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence, two documentaries about the history of communist massacres in Indonesia from the perpetrators and victims alike.

Elmyr de Hory

In F for Fake, the sequence is simple. Similar topics and common subjects always end up contradicting and, for some audiences, will end up the same. The process and scene always end up the same and make similar adjustments. However, Welles was not stuck with adjustments. He connects mind and reason so that the subject ties the common thread of logic in interpretation despite the simplicity of the problem formulation.

In his next main subject, Welles tells a story about Elmyr de Hory, a famous but skilled forger of works of art. He managed to fool museums and collectors into thinking they were buying the real thing. The actual footage of de Hory shows him having a dinner party with guests from the elite of European society. At the party, Clifford Irving, de Hory’s biographer, spoke of inherent irony. A question about the guilt or innocence of the charges of forgery began to emerge. De Hory points to a political subject in a profit scandal involving a bogus autobiography about loner billionaire Howard Hughes.

Clifford Irving and the Forgery

Irving begins to make in-depth points about Hughes’ fake autobiography. The story of the expert’s falsity is about how de Hory’s paintings are, in part, more questionable than others concerning alleged authenticity. Many art dealers seem to ignore the elements and the essence of distinguishing an original from a fake. He further underlined the potential relationship between counterfeiters and experts. In addition to Irving, Welles revealed that the luxurious house where the painter lived did not belong to de Hory. However, it is owned by an art dealer.

Welles sinks in and lets the information slide into a forgery. In the same analogy, he also illustrates it with one of the examples of the New York fake actor and War of the Worlds radio. Despite media differences, both fool audiences and listeners into believing accurate news reports and famous actors. In that case, de Hory, on the other hand, argued that what he did was not a forgery. After all, he never forged the original artist’s signature on his recreations. The time breakdown contemplates Welles and becomes an essential detail of de Hory’s quote about his pursuit and forgery.

…and Then

After explaining an additional seasoning in the main recipe, F for Fake returns to the subject of reaction again, which is the girl in the miniskirt. Oja Kodar was Picasso’s inspiration after posing for 22 paintings by the Cubist master. However, she demanded that as a model be allowed to keep the painting to herself. Picasso received word of an exhibition of 22 paintings. Regardless of the picture, the forger, and the illusion, are none other than Kodar’s grandfather. After all, the entirety presents a recreation in dialogue, played by Welles and Kodar. The fictional character is the miniskirt girl, Picasso, and Kodar’s grandfather, ending with an observation about the lies behind the apparent truth.

In quoting and understanding how F for Fake explores the bend in such a way, Tony Zhou made an essay film using the method of Trey Parker, the co-creator of South Park. It is always related to how to arrange and how not to arrange. Instead of making a repeating “and then” cut, Zhou describes it in terms of “cause” and “effect.” When the topic covers thousands of subjects inside, it is anything in the complex structure.

The Realm of Illusion

Zhou concludes how F for Fake moves in parallel with its essay film, more than one story, and reaches bend interest, thereby isolating the audience in time and space. From all perspectives, it is not about how the film ends. It is about how the process is cut and ends by the ends. Unlike an essay, a video essay is also a film. Meanwhile, Welles prefers to describe the film as “a film about trickery and fraud,” depicting over forty years. The laws of cinema, and also apply to magic, defend a truth through illusion.

Art is a lie to Welles. However, he hopes that a film like F for Fake will mark the beginning of a new phase. He consciously took an appreciation of the French New Wave, avoiding any ironic shots. He does not want to expose his Wellesian, sitting in the middle of the film as an actor, fraud, magician, and critic while smoking a cigar. In front of the audience’s eyes, he reminded that he had never been a more charismatic screen presence. After all, he plays alone in the realm of illusion while questioning whether the film is actual or not, like looking at a photo of people who have died while talking to themselves if they ever lived in this world.


About the author

Salman Al Farisi is the owner of Calxylian and is an elitist who has enjoyed and studied various mediums. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 2020 from the Haluoleo University, Indonesia, where he studied English Literature, Film Criticism, Cultural Studies, Literary Theory, and Literary Criticism. He lives in Kendari in his mom's basement, now unemployed and ghostwriter, life with his cats, and is looking for the future.

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