Friday, November 02, 2007

Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 1965)

****½
Spain/Switzerland

The corpulent, witty, tragi-comic Falstaff is very nearly Shakespeare's richest creation. Orson Welles recognised this when he morphed the two plays where the character pops up with bits of their prequel and sequel and some of Hollinshed's history lessons for context. It's one of the many potential Welles masterpieces hampered by dodgy production values, but Shakespeare has never felt more alive on-screen before or since. The movie is funny; it's bawdy; it's exciting; it's touching. And the battle at Shrewsbury would fit in comfortably among the greatest hits of Eisenstein and Kurosawa.

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