"All great films can be divided into one of two categories: the agony of making cinema; or the joy of making cinema." -- Francois TruffautWelles's last completed film seems to be an answer to the question: "If the distinction between real art and fakery is one that can only be made by 'experts,' is the faker who outwits the 'experts' a real artist?" -- an answer provided by the movie's stars: Clifford Irving, Howard Hughes, Jorge Luis Borges, Elmyr de Hory, and Welles girlfriend Oja Kodar.
F for Fake (1973) is a magic box, a jewelled sanctum, the cave of Orson Welles's imagination: a privileged place of transmutation, memory, and contemplation -- its space opening and shuttering like a concertina or a zigzag screen, the director bathing otherwise uninteresting people and things in a joyous radiance, a harmony and exactness parallel to the satisfactions of the world. One measured voice, quietly and exuberantly telling why this light, this color, this sound, this intrusion is precious in the life of the mind and of the heart. Here we watch a consummate artist intoxicated by his found vocation. All Welles passions -- movies, theater, magic, circus, radio, women, painting, literature -- are fused. F for Fake is not his best film, but its aura may be his most romantic, not because of the content or the narrative thrust, but because it is the final courtship of an artist with his art.
Every filmmaker who has followed him has done just that: followed him, for he is one of the hinges of movie history: there were movies before him and movies after him, and they were not the same.