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Chimes at Midnight

Directed by Orson Welles

France, 1965

HOME, 26 July 2015

Chimes at Midnight

As is well known, Orson Welles had an immense regard for Shakespeare. He remarked one time, when working on Macbeth or Othello or perhaps another play, that it was salutary to be confronted with material that was better than you were.

The restoration of Chimes at Midnight, a film about Falstaff that uses the texts of several Shakespeare plays, shows that Welles’s appreciation was grounded on a profound understanding of the Bard’s art. This film has it all. There is bawdy and battle scenes, noble sentiment and callous intrigue, splendour and squalor, wit and pity and terror, and even a play within a play, with Falstaff taking the part of the king. All is wondrous: John Gielgud is here and Welles’s Falstaff, one of Shakespeare’s two greatest characters according to Harold Bloom (the other being Hamlet), is his equal.

A masterpiece.

Chimes at Midnight is showing again at HOME today and tomorrow, further details here.