This is one of those reviews you read and it makes you wish the Criterion Collection would hurry up and give this film a proper DVD release. Some clips...
Time, however, has been very good to Orson Welles' "Chimes at Midnight." Welles adapted his kinetic, crushingly sad Shakespearean foray primarily from the two parts of "Henry IV," augmented with bits of "Richard II," "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and Holinshed's "Chronicles." It is the most vibrant of Welles' completed Shakespeare projects. Many consider it one of the freest and greatest of all Shakespearean screen adaptations. A recommendation necessitates a hundred different caveats, some technical, others interpretive. But if you haven't yet seen it, or haven't seen it in too long, do. It's receiving two screenings in the Music Box Theatre's ongoing weekend matinee Welles retrospective
In an interview with Baxter, Welles scholar Bridget Gellert Lyons got the actor talking about how Welles saw "Chimes at Midnight" as the beginning of the end of merry old England. "That England died," he told her, "with the beginning of the Lancastrian reign and the introduction of gunpowder … Welles felt very much that Shakespeare was looking back and presenting Falstaff as the actual personification of that pastoral earlier England." Shot in Spain, eternally in need of a better, crisper visual and aural restoration than it has yet received, "Chimes at Midnight" is one of Welles' peak achievements. Its depth of feeling seems very real, very deep indeed.
Read the full review and wish for a proper DVD release HERE.
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