I had heard so much about this film for so long that I was almost certain to be let down by it. It looked terrible and despite his ruminating on various topics, I was just not engaged. Reading descriptions of what it was about and what he was doing was more interesting and enjoyable than actually watching the film. That happens sometimes, no?
WOW. That was riveting! I'm deepening my love of Orson Welles, and his personality is on display here. The last segment on Picasso was particularly masterful, as Orson plays with the 'truthful' nature of documentary itself. Also just fun to see him thriving in his European circles. :D Oja Kodar is a major babe!
Art as some sort of great truth is only for the confused intellectuals. The magicians who create this art, living in high castles, know that they are forgers and liars. Atleast that's how it is today. The best part of this essay is Orson's 2 minute monologue about the anonymous architects of Chartres Cathedral who designed it as a celebration of human spirit and the newfound vanity and hubris of people everywhere.
Welles takes his raw footage, and squeezes from a slight tale of coincidence a whole host of questions about artistic worth. He has fun playing around with the new quick cut, soft focus aesthetic too, producing some pretty haunting effects. Heretical thought: Is the sequence with Oja Kodar Welles attempting to show his erstwhile protoge Jess Franco how you make pop art inflected erotic Euroschlock?
There's so many layers and Orwell makes it look easy. A second viewing and a wall graph of the events was needed just for me to keep up. For some this is Orwell's final masterpiece and to other an editor's bible on how to structure a film with multiple plots and themes that revolve around the art of fakery with Orwell calmly narrating through the process of this documentary, making of and semi autobiographical work.
In the epilogue of "El Hacedor", Borges says that that is his most personal book, not because it's confessional, but precisely because it's the one with the largest amount of mirrors, doubles and lies. The same thing happens here. Through the many masks Welles uses, he makes explicit the very fabric of his work - and the foundations of the man himself. This is a film of immensurable honesty and beauty.
Clever and charming cinematographic experimentation with the unique Orson Welles’touch. Powerful magical, illusonary tendency in art (mainly the speculative, avant-garde modern art) and in cinema (the art of lies by excellence). Morality : don’t trust the experts and don’t be fooled by the marketing fraud.
Authentic masterpiece from one of the greatest 'forgers' of cinematic truth, who, like Elmyr, holds dear whatever he attempts to forge and imitate. Ultimately, Welles' venomous humor targets not 'authenticity' as such but the community of experts and their arrogance in resorting to authenticity as a criterion whilst forging it as part of their role and profession. The end of a rhapsodic era in a genuine work of art!
After a career of being blackballed and ostracized by his puppet masters, walrus Welles has the last laugh in examining the validity of “art” (as a mode of commodity in pulling the wool over eyes of the masses) by exposing the industry amusingly in a swiftly cut, structurally fresh yet entirely coherent film essay. What better way to affix the main thesis than in a comedic coda provoking an all-time con-artist?