Watch Chimes at Midnight
- 1 hr 57 min
Chimes at Midnight is a 1965 film directed by and starring the legendary Orson Welles. The story is an original adaptation of Shakespeare's plays, focusing on the character of John Falstaff (Welles) from Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and The Merry Wives of Windsor. The film follows Falstaff as he navigates the political and personal landscapes of medieval England, only to be betrayed by everyone he trusts. The themes of loyalty, betrayal, and the exploration of the human condition through tragedy are prominent throughout the film.
The movie is set during the Middle Ages, in a war-torn England. The kingdom is in chaos as the rightful King Henry IV (John Gielgud) fights to maintain his grip on the throne. In the midst of this upheaval, we meet Falstaff, a drunken and bawdy knight who once served alongside King Henry but has since fallen out of favor. Falstaff now spends his days carousing with other mercenaries and ne'er-do-wells, drinking and gambling away what little money he has left. His closest friends are Prince Hal (Keith Baxter), the future King Henry V, and Mistress Quickly (Margaret Rutherford), the madam of a local brothel.
As we follow Falstaff on his adventures, we see his struggles with pride and his growing disillusionment with the corrupt politics of the court. He becomes an outcast, hated by the very people he once called his friends, and finds himself caught in the middle of a power struggle between the two halves of his soul: his loyalty to Prince Hal and his desire for a life of reckless pleasure. The film explores the complexities of Falstaff's character, showing him to be both a wise philosopher and a shameless rogue.
The acting in the movie is superb, particularly by Orson Welles as Falstaff. He gives a nuanced and multi-faceted performance, conveying the depths of the character's despair and self-loathing while still retaining a certain comedic charm. His scenes with Margaret Rutherford are particularly delightful, as they play off each other's eccentricities and quirks. Jeanne Moreau also delivers a strong performance as Doll Tearsheet, the prostitute with whom Falstaff shares a complicated relationship. Her scenes with Welles are intense and dramatic, showing the depth of their connection despite the fact that they come from vastly different worlds.
The cinematography of Chimes at Midnight is also worth noting. Directed by Gabriel Figueroa and aided by Welles' own creative vision, the film employs a variety of techniques to create a sweeping, epic feel. The camera work is fluid and imaginative, capturing the action in a way that feels both dynamic and immersive. The film's use of light and shadow is also noteworthy, creating a sense of depth and texture that enhances the storytelling. The battle scenes, in particular, are well-staged and shot, with a visceral intensity that makes them some of the most exciting moments in the movie.
Overall, Chimes at Midnight is a captivating and powerful film that deserves to be more widely known. Its exploration of Shakespeare's themes through the character of Falstaff is fascinating, and its themes of loyalty, betrayal, and the human condition are as relevant today as they were when the film was first released. Though it has been somewhat overlooked in the years since its release, it is a true masterpiece and a testament to the talents of Orson Welles as both an actor and a director.
Chimes at Midnight is a 1966 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 57 minutes. It has received outstanding reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 94.