Chimes at MidnightHD
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About the Movie
The crowning achievement of Orson Welles’s extraordinary film career, Chimes at Midnight was the culmination of the filmmaker’s lifelong obsession with Shakespeare’s ultimate rapscallion, Sir John Falstaff. Usually a comic supporting figure, Falstaff—the loyal, often soused friend of King Henry IV’s wayward son Prince Hal—here becomes the focus: a robustly funny and ultimately tragic screen antihero played by Welles with looming, lumbering grace. Integrating elements from both Henry IV plays as well as Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, Welles created a gritty and unorthodox Shakespeare film, one that he intended, he said, as “a lament . . . for the death of Merrie England.” Poetic, philosophical, and visceral—with a kinetic centerpiece battle sequence that rivals anything else in the director’s body of work—Chimes at Midnight is as monumental as the figure at its heart.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 38
- Fresh: 37
- Rotten: 1
- Average Rating: 8.9/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: Thanks to an astonishingly crisp restoration, Orson Welles' 1965 Shakespearean masterpiece can now be appreciated by anyone who thought his best days behind the camera ended with Touch of Evil.
Fresh: A personal viewpoint, it mixes the grotesque, bawdy, comic and heroic, and does have a melancholy under its carousing and battles.
Fresh: Of all the movies Welles made, it may offer the most clues to his imposing pachyderm soul.
Fresh: Sprawling, and hugely ambitious, and containing a glorious Wellesian Falstaff who's as majestic in folly as he is in girth.
Best Shakespeare film ever...
...always said so, in spite of its crappy sound and low-budget look. The restoration here is breathtaking. Welles thought it his best work and he was right. Which makes it one of the greatest movies ever made. The extraordinary depiction of the Battle of Shrewsbury is rightly celebrated as the best of its kind, and has shaped every subsequent medieval battle scene since.
The 1949 release date is incorrect. “Chimes at Midnight” premiered at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.