F for Fake and Inglourious Basterds.

F for Fake and Inglourious Basterds

by Punky Canlas and Jonathan Sewell

F for Fake

F for Fake by Orson Welles presents audiences with a different way of viewing, and even more so, taking in documentaries. Welles, as he is also the narrator, opens the “film-essay” by giving viewers a scene wherein he plays with magic, illusion, and deception. This may not be obvious at the beginning of the film, but as it progresses, the ideas of illusion and deception do not just remain as gimmicks to open F for Fake. Somewhere in the introduction, Welles mentions that “this isa film about trickery and fraud,” but then states that what would be presented is based on solid facts. When put together, the two statements are quite ironic, leading viewers to question the content. Both suggest a sense of mystery with regards to what the film-essay is about.



Throughout F for Fake, a handful of facts are thrown at viewers; specifically about Elmyr de Hory, a master art forger. The story narrates his life as someone who forges artwork of Picasso, and other great artists. However, the documentary branches out, and viewers are bombarded with names and separate stories altogether. The film-essay revolves around fakery, and how being a master “faker” is actually an art. There are three main “fakers” present within the film, aside from Elmyr de Hory; there is Clifford Irving, the writer of Elmyr’s biography, who claims that he has partnered up with Howard Hughes to produce the master faker’s life story. Surprisingly, by the end of the film, even the maker/narrator himself – Orson Welles, admits to being a faker. Howard Hughes, and Oja Kodar become crucial personalities in F for Fake, as well. Throughout the film, there are evident disruptions and manipulation of scenes, making viewers (again) question the actuality of events being narrated.

The technicality of F for Fake may be compared to Inglourious Basterds. Having separate stories about different people or groups; the narrations are in “chapter” form, which when connected come all together forming a coherent end. Next, scenes from both films are manipulated, and so are characters. In F for Fake, although viewers are presented with real people, each’s story is manipulated as well, which then make them in a sense, fictional. Lastly, both films question the viwers’ knowledge of real and unreal – and truth versus lies.

Orson Welles purposely made this film to have viewers question the “reality” being presented to them. There is a conflict presented, “trickery, fraud, and lies” versus “based on solid facts.” Having said that, Welles tests viewers’ knowledge and use of critical thinking; and in result, push viewers to become more aware of the information they choose to believe.


Inglourious Basterds

What this paper will attempt to do is take the reader through defining scenes. As the paper progresses, the reader will be able to follow and be able to be knowledgeable of the racially related symbols and nuances of some scenes in the film. This, however, will hopefully be done without spoiling the plot or important facts about the film.

Lets us begin with the SS Colonel Hans Landa. In the first scene, when we are introduced to the Colonel, he speaks with the French dairy farmer, Perrier LaPadite, in French. As the two men converse and continue their conversation in the house of Perrier LaPadite, Colonel Hans Landa asks Perrier LaPadite if they may switch to speaking in English. His manner of speaking French with the Frenchman was already impressive. He spoke fluently and confidently, and then when he did change the language of speech to English, he carried on with the same fluency and confidence. This very much showed that the Colonel was well versed, educated and one can say he is very cultured. Although his confidence may boil down to nothing more than extreme arrogance, Colonel Hans Landa does seem to carry himself quite well as a speaker.

This confidence or arrogance, however one might want to view it, was quite evident during the whole conversation. The body language was one of the indications that this is so. The whole time, Colonel Hans Landa was either standing tall; sitting up straight and even had quite expressive gestures. Opposed to Colonel Hans Landa, Perrier LaPadite was slouching and moved in subtle movements. This was an indication of how Colonel Hans Landa viewed himself superior to Perrier LaPadite.

As mentioned previously, Colonel Hans Landa commanded Perrier LaPadite’s attention and hospitality; this could be seen as a metaphor for Germany’s egotistical view of superiority over France. Robert Weigman said “Who can talk about the Western, for instance, without some attention to the ideological of a mythic American Past?”(Weigman). What he meant here, is that when someone watches a film just like Inglourious Basterds, we cannot avoid bringing up the stories of World War II. Even though the historical inaccuracy of this film is quite immense, there had to be some historical basis to it at the same time.


The Flags of each country represented in the film are nowhere to be seen. The only symbol of allegiance that we see in the film is the Nazi Swastika. Although most of the Nazis were German, it does not stand true when we say only the Germans were Nazis. So taking this into account, we now see the idea behind one of the words in the title. “Basterds”. There were even German and Austrian born members of the American resistance team. Colonel Hans Landa even made a deal with the Americans so that the war would in exchange for a few privileges. So all this is just complementary to the word “Basterds” in the title.

These are not the only facts that could be said about the film. There are probably a hundred more to think about. You may refer to the blog entry by psychoonatrain found on this same wordpress page. These facts though are definitely ones to ponder on and think about when experiencing this film.

Wiegman, Robyn. (2009). Race Ethnicity and Film. [Course material]. Brock University


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: