Chimes at Midnight  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Chimes at Midnight, also known as Falstaff and Campanadas a medianoche (Spanish title), is a 1965 film directed by and starring Orson Welles. Focused on William Shakespeare's recurring character Sir John Falstaff, the film stars Welles himself as Falstaff, Keith Baxter plays Prince Hal (who will later become Henry V), and John Gielgud plays Henry IV. Jeanne Moreau appears as Doll Tearsheet and Margaret Rutherford as Mistress Quickly.

The script contains text from five Shakespeare plays: primarily Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2, but also Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. It was based on Welles's play Five Kings, an adaptation of four Shakespeare plays which he produced in 1939 and again in 1960. The film's narration, spoken by Ralph Richardson, is taken from the chronicler Raphael Holinshed.

Near the end of the film, Welles slightly alters a scene from Henry V, Act 2, Scene 2 in which Henry V pardons an imprisoned street rabble-rouser just before his expedition to invade France. In Welles' version it is stated that this man is Falstaff, and the incident he is pardoning is Falstaff's disturbance of Henry's coronation. Although both the pardoned prisoner and Falstaff are said to drink wine, Shakespeare's original has no implication the pardoned prisoner is Falstaff. In both Welles' film and in Henry V, this scene is followed by the death of Falstaff.

The film was nominated (in 1968) for a BAFTA film award for Welles as Best Foreign Actor. At the 1966 Cannes Film Festival Welles was nominated for the Golden Palm Award and won the 20th Anniversary Prize and the Technical Grand Prize. In Spain it won (in 1966) the Citizens Writers Circle Award for Best Film.

Welles held this film in high regard and considered it along with The Trial (1962) as his best work. As he remarked in 1982, "If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie, that's the one I'd offer up." Many critics, including Peter Bogdanovich and Jonathan Rosenbaum, also consider it Welles's finest work. The scene depicting the Battle of Shrewsbury has been particularly admired, serving as an inspiration for movies like Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan.

The film is officially available on region 2 DVD from Spain. Due to complications concerning the film's ownership and the estate of Orson Welles, Chimes at Midnight remains unavailable in the United States. It was released for the first time in the UK in February 2011.

Cast

Books

Chimes at Midnight. Rutgers UP, 1989. ISBN 0-8135-1339-1 (complete screenplay included).




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Chimes at Midnight" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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