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Chimes at Midnight

Where to Watch Chimes at Midnight

NR
1966

Chimes at Midnight, sometimes referred to as Falstaff, is an intriguing piece of cinematic artistry released in 1965. Helmed by the legendary Orson Welles, the film epitomizes Welles' understanding of Shakespeare and translates it onto the screen, making it one of the most adored adaptations of the Bard's work. It paints a multifaceted picture of Sir John Falstaff, one of literature's most enduring comical characters, by combining elements from several Shakespearean plays. The film stars Welles himself as Falstaff along with Jeanne Moreau and Margaret Rutherford in substantial roles.

The narrative seamlessly intertwines five of Shakespeare's plays - primarily Henry IV, parts 1 and 2, but also Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. It focuses on the complex, multifarious friendship between the lovable rogue Sir John Falstaff and the youthful Prince Hal, played by Keith Baxter. As the crown Prince of England, Hal is torn between his duties towards his ailing father, King Henry IV (portrayed by John Gielgud) and his affection for Falstaff, a roguish, wily knight who has taken Hal under his debauched wing.

Chimes at Midnight is as much about this intricate relationship as it is about the personal journey of Falstaff. Welles presents Falstaff as a charming, yet emotionally layered figure, illustrating a sense of tragedy behind his jovial exterior. Despite his unrestrained lifestyle, Falstaff becomes an endearing figure, instilling a blend of humor, pathos, and profound humanity into the narrative.

Jeanne Moreau plays Doll Tearsheet, Falstaff's consort, with admirable grit and vulnerability. She's a key part of Falstaff's world – a realm bubbling with ale and ribald humor. Margaret Rutherford enlivens the film further in the role of Mistress Quickly, the innkeeper of the Boar's Head Tavern in Eastcheap, the chosen haven for Falstaff and his companions.

The film is noteworthy for its innovative cinematic techniques. Amid the Shakespearean dialogue and themes of love, honor, and betrayal, what stands out is Welles's masterful handling of the camera. The Battle of Shrewsbury is a remarkable testament to this, powerfully depicted with gripping pacing and stark cinematography. The sequence is a blend of chaos and poignant stillness, producing one of the finest depictions of medieval combat in cinema's history.

Moving beyond the realm of a conventional period drama, Chimes at Midnight offers much for viewers to appreciate in both its plot and presentation. Ralph Richardson's narration enhances the depth of the historical drama while the visuals, combining stark black-and-white tones with Spanish landscapes, do wonders to create the gloomy, medieval atmosphere.

Alongside the dominant theme of friendship, the film also explores power, honor, and the harsh realities of aging. It delves into the conflict between public duties and personal pleasures, between honor and loyalty, mirroring the complexities of the human condition in a way that only Shakespearean literature can.

One of the key strengths of Chimes at Midnight lies in its performances. Orson Welles, with his booming voice and remarkable screen presence, is captivating as Falstaff. His performance artistically balances the character's boisterous humor and underlying melancholy. Keith Baxter, as Prince Hal, offers a commendable portrayal of a young man in the clutches of a moral crisis, while John Gielgud provides a stern overlay to the proceedings as King Henry IV. Jeanne Moreau and Margaret Rutherford, amidst the turmoil and battles, provide the much-needed feminine touch to the narrative.

In conclusion, Chimes at Midnight is an elaborate and richly layered drama that magnificently encapsulates elements of Shakespearean tragedy, comedy, and historical grandeur. Orson Welles's direction finds its apogee in this film, filled with a grandeur that only a few adaptations have been able to accomplish. The narrative evokes a range of emotions, from humor to sorrow, and touches upon a variety of themes that remain relevant even today. It is a film that is sure to charm lovers of Shakespeare, history, and potent cinema alike.

Chimes at Midnight is a Comedy, Drama, History, War movie released in 1966. It has a runtime of 117 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.6. It also holds a MetaScore of 94.

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Where can I stream Chimes at Midnight movie online? Chimes at Midnight is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Max, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Chimes at Midnight for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

7.6/10
94/100
Director
Orson Welles
Stars
Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford, Keith Baxter, John Gielgud, Marina Vlady, Fernando Rey, Beatrice Welles, Ingrid Pitt
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