It features typically spectacular visuals form Welles and a poignant narrative
Welles use of natural light has rarely, if ever, been better. There are shots of the sun pouring into the castle that are amongst the best thing cinema has produced
Welles actual performance as the jovial Falstaff is amongst his best work (up there with Kane and Touch of Evil and that scene in the third man)
True melancholy and loneliness (even in a sea of people)—the king killed his heart in a devastating finale
There are some soundtrack issues even though the bluray cleaned it up— many of the problems are part of the production (low budget, shot on location in spain, heavy dubbing) so no bluray overall is going to clean it up—more to that some of the editing cutaways aren’t razor sharp
Wonderful staging and framing of Welles fat face
Multiple examples of depth of field framing conversations with two characters, at different depths, facing the camera and having dialogue
Love the woods loaded with trees—it would be formally mirrored by the wall of spears and polls for the flags in the final march and coronation of the King (and Welles’ Falstaff’s heart removal)
The beginning is so playful to mirror the narrative—Welles is funny—has a rummy’s nose for sure as well playing the drunk—he’s a rascal and profane
Welles trademark Low angles galore
A surprisingly involved and detailed long fast-motion action sequences
John Gielgud is superb- he’s not in enough of the film to my liking but I can’t remember him being better
Welles, smartly, shows the full ceiling of the castle in the interior sequences. His trademark low-angles. It’s a pleasure to watch- ornate. It’s a great juxtaposition with Falstaff’s den (again showing off the ceiling work as part of the mise-en-scene)
There are long patches of narrative and acting which is unlike Welles best work otherwise this would be right there
[…] Chimes at Midnight – Welles […]
I did not even know this film existed until a few years ago. I am not sure Chimes at Midnight isn’t Welles best performance. Welles himself believed he was born to play John Falstaff and he was correct, this may have been his most emotionally devastating performance although his performances in Kane and Touch of Evil are right there. Welles had a penchant for playing bigger than life characters which was appropriate in art reflecting life as Welles was a bigger than life person. This is one of the reasons his trademark low angle shots are so fitting to many of his films and this one is no different.
I do not know if this is true but I read somewhere that the scene where prince Hal turns his back on Falstaff was suppose to be a symbolic of Hollywood turning its back on Orson Welles at least from Welles perspective. I would not be surprised as Welles films often had multiple interpretations.
This really is an extraordinary film to watch on a big screen if you get the chance.