The career of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff as roistering companion to young Prince Hal, circa 1400-1413.
The career of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff as roistering companion to young Prince Hal, circa 1400-1413.
Falstaff - Chimes at Midnight, As Badaladas da Meia-Noite, Falstaff - Campanadas de medianoche, Falstaff - O Toque da Meia Noite, Falstaff - Oi kabanes tou mesonyktiou, Oi kabanes tou mesonyktiou, Φάλσταφ, 한밤의 차임벨
Welles is perhaps the greatest amateur in cinema, having never learned to "properly" direct because of the artistic success of Citizen Kane. His camera placements are always off in some way: actors are pushed too close in, the angle much too slanted, the sight lines mismatched. Characters jump off screen and then back into place without reason, and spatial relations are constantly shifting with motivation. Actors deliver Shakespearean dialogue much too pointedly, as if they were still on the stage any no sense for the camera. There's too much love paid to the bombastic sets and some of the cuts take away from poignant moments in which the camera should simply rest. Shots are either filled with too much information…
As many fat jokes as Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps but with an extended battle sequence largely shot by second unit director Jess Franco (not sure who directed the one in NP2TK. Also not sure why Orson Welles was attracted to a story about a wise but hedonistic fool of considerable girth who in his lifetime told fantastic stories that gained him the respect of mischievous young men but by the time of his death was unrecognized and misunderstood. Not sure about so much in this life).
Really glad I finally got to see this properly restored, as the print I caught back in '99 was beat up almost to the point of being unwatchable. (Same is true of The Trial, which will hopefully also turn up in better condition soon.) Now I can appreciate just how astounding Welles made the film look on a negligible budget, mostly by shooting from a distance in magnificent locations. As a bonus, this monumental aesthetic also makes the post-sync sound somewhat less distracting, though the disjunction between words and mouths still bugs me (as it does in virtually every Italian film from this period). That objection aside, Chimes ranks alongside Welles' Othello among the great Shakespeare adaptations, even if…
What a sublime pleasure it is to see this film restored, to be able to appreciate its wild beauty, itself a magnificent achievement given Welles's ludicrous setbacks and pauses in filming, to the fullest expression and to see that Orson truly was that bitch. Welles's Shakespeare adaptation perfected the balance between theatrical opulence, revisionist grit and filth, and the freer possibilities of cinema, and Chimes at Midnight is the ultimate synthesis of these traits. The movie and its characters are caked in dirt and clothed in rags, its humor drags all the common vulgarity out of Shakespeare's text, and for all the political machinations of holding power one is, as in both Welles's and Roman Polanski's adaptations of Macbeth, left…
Orson Welles fought his entire career to play this role: a great big fatso.
"Enfeoff'd himself to popularity;
That, being daily swallow'd by men's eyes,
They surfeited with honey and began
To loathe the taste of sweetness, whereof a little
More than a little is by much too much.
So when he had occasion to be seen,
He was but as the cuckoo is in June,
Heard, not regarded; seen, but with such eyes
As, sick and blunted with community,
Afford no extraordinary gaze,
Such as is bent on sun-like majesty
When it shines seldom in admiring eyes;
But rather drowzed and hung their eyelids down,
Slept in his face and render'd such aspect
As cloudy men use to their…
"And if we live, we live to tread on kings."
Human beings in a mob..
What's a mob to a king?
What's a king to a god?
What's a god to a non-believer?
Orson Welles alway harbored a magnificent obsession with the Bard and his plays, but one character in particular always held his interest in the highest regard: John Falstaff. This character gave a recurring appearance in several of Shakespeare's plays, typically appearing as the comic relief or dashing womanizer. Chimes at Midnight shows Welles taking his writing and theatrical capacities to their fullest, creating what could be the greatest Shakespeare play that Shakespeare never wrote- a beautiful conglomeration of five different plays, primarily focusing on Henry IV, Parts One and Two, that proves just how great of an artist Welles was never recognized as by the studios. Being forced to work overseas, this masterpiece was filmed in its entirety in Spain,…
This is an insane undertaking. Telling the tale of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff, this film uses parts of many, many of Shakespeare's plays to portray the tragic tale of a comic character. That there is such a tale to tell is a testament to Orson Welles and Shakespeare himself. The film is a full epic wrapped around a side character in three plays.
Welles is glorious in his role, of course, but he plays against Keith Baxter as Prince Hal, who often seemed awfully stiff in his portrayal, even when it didn't call for it. Still, there are plenty around to pick up the slack.
There are some grand sequences in here. The cleverly made tavern set, an epic battle scene (including the absurd cranes used to mount the knights on their horses--I have heard more than once this is a bullshit Hollywood convention), and a brilliant running fight/robbery all stand out.
December count: 49/100.
"God, send the prince a better companion."
"God, send the companion a better prince."
Orson Welles's Chimes at Midnight takes Sir John Falstaff, a comedic side character in three of Shakespeare's plays, and puts him center stage to tell a story about friendship and betrayal. It attains that wonderfully strange tonal synthesis of a tragedy about a comic relief character. A strange medley of death and fat jokes. Welles meets Shakespeare meets Tyler Perry.
"Your means are very slender, and your waste is great."
"I would it were otherwise. I would that my means were greater, and my waist slenderer."
I always do my best to not let technical limitations unreasonably hinder my enjoyment of film, but there's a huge…
At this point in his life, 1965, Orson Welles was huge in every sense of the word. Of all the impressive facets of Chimes at Midnight such as Welles’ clever screenplay, Edmund Richard’s stunning cinematography, the gorgeous on-location sets, and the Battle of Shrewsbury sequence, maybe the one that stands out the most is Welles’ lack of vanity as an actor.
While Falstaff is an outsized character on the page, Welles attacks the role with relish. He lumbers around the halls of castle and the outskirts of the battlefield, his physicality reinforcing the comic nature of his character. His face seems seems capable of registering five to seven expressions in the span of five seconds, be it hubris, mischievousness, melancholy,…
Orson Welles’s proficiencies with Chimes at Midnight is to lay hold of Shakespeare’s historical plays and to peel away the layers to lay bare the underlying narrative of a son (Prince Hal) divided between his royal father (King Henry IV) and his uninhibited friend and companion (Sir John Falstaff). The film is visually extraordinary, and Welles makes for a dramatic screen presence as Falstaff, utilising his physique with a significance of strength that is communicable.
Commonly with Welles’s movies after 1948, Chimes at Midnight has disadvantages generated out of the collective constraints of money, time and resources, and unfortunately, it’s primarily the sound here which is soiled with technical problems. However, even with imposed limitations, this is a remarkable movie, exploding with striking imagery and perceptible energy that scarcely subsides, and of all of Welles's late-stage achievements, this amalgam of plot, characters and dialogue is one of his most outstanding.
La mirada de Orson Welles sobre la obra de Shakespeare, delirante por momentos, epica por otros y desconcertante en su mayoría de metraje.
Criterion Challenge 2021 #6:
This is the thing that I feared in committing to 52 Criterion films, selected hastily: this movie is obviously masterful and also a struggle to get through. Worth it for Welles’ performance, nearly every shot composition, and the battle sequence, but still a chore.
First chunk: Bunch of BS
Then: an INSANE BATTLE that GoT wishes it could do
Then: More BS!
The Shakespeare dialogue is hard enough to follow without the cobbled together soundtrack... That being said, there are a few really amazing moments in this movie, and the cinematography is really something.
Fat, drunk, and waving a sword around is no way to go through life, son.
what kept me from fulling loving Chimes at Midnight is the fucking sound. people talk shit about Christopher Nolan's sound mixing being bad, but shit, ALL of Welles' movies have shitty sound. sometimes it's just careless microphone placement, but often it's just bad overdubbing. you'd think that a guy who got his big break in radio would be a bit more careful about audio. and Welles' dialog is very lyrical, but often times it's muddy or incomprehensible. i had to turn on closed captioning here (not usual because i have tinnitus), and there were several points that were just transcribed as "[INAUDIBLE]", lol.
but damn, Chimes at Midnight is a mostly incredible movie. and like ALL of Welles' post-Citizen Kane…
watching adaptations of shakespeare taxes my brain as i do my best to follow the archaic style of the dialogue. but once i got on that wavelength, i began to appreciate how robust a production this was. the battle scene was gripping and beautifully staged, and there are shots that remind me of more contemporary works that must have taken some inspiration (braveheart, game of thrones, lotr). not to mention an ingenious script comprised of bits taken from the henriad and condensed into a satisfying two hour film. but the real gem for me was welles’s portrayal of falstaff, which is just chock full of pathos and truly heartbreaking in the end. a far cry from his acting in touch of evil, though just as virtuosic. i’ll be certainly be revisiting this one.
Love the shots of Falstaff in battle. Just pure cinematic sight gag.
foda pra caralho o equilíbrio entre humor e tragédia que o welles consegue colocar aqui, as habilidades de direção dele são mostradas durante o filme todo e na cena da "batalha épica" atinge o ápice.. simplesmente incrível
Probably the finest film made of Shakespeare. It is beautiful, brilliant, and crushing.
What a pleasant surprise. I didn't particularly enjoy or care for either of Welles' previous Shakespeare adaptations so it's fair to say I was dreading this knowing it was longer than both of them.
However this was a true joy to witness at times. A lot funnier than I was expecting and the relationship between Falstaff (Orson Welles) & Prince Hal (Keith Baxter) was so enjoyable which is obviously why the ending has as much impact as it does. Oh and it has a pretty awesome battle. Another unexpected but welcome surprise. As with basically all of Welles' films this is visually striking throughout. If I am to take anything from this retrospective it is that.
Among lots of other themes, what have had the most impact on me is honor. Falstaff, a character created by Shakespeare, charmingly criticizes certain norms of the era, which could also be applied to modern era if we modify it a bit.
"Can honor set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery then, no. What is honor? Air. A trim reckoning. Who hath it? He that died a-Wednesday. Doth feel it? No. 'Tis he insensible then? Yes, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore, I'll none of it. HONOR IS A MERE SCUTCHEON. And so ends my catechism."
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