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  • Falstaff: Chimes at Midnight [Definitive Restored Version DVD] [1965]
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Falstaff: Chimes at Midnight [Definitive Restored Version DVD] [1965]

38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Mr Bongo
  • DVD Release Date: 30 April 2012
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007H7OQW2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,766 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

On the brink of Civil War, King Henry IV (John Gielgud) attempts to consolidate his reign while fretting with unease over his son s seeming neglect of his royal duties. Hal (Keith Baxter), the young Prince, openly consorts with Sir John Falstaff (Orson Welles) and his company of "Diana s foresters, Gentlemen of the shade, Minions of the moon". Hal s friendship with the fat knight substitutes for his estrangement from his father. Both Falstaff and the King are old and tired; both rely on Hal for comfort in their final years, while the young Prince, the future Henry V, nurtures his own ambitions.

Orson Welles considered Chimes at Midnight his personal favorite of all his films. Perhaps the most radical and groundbreaking of all Shakespeare adaptations, the film condenses the Bard s Henriad cycle into a single focused narrative. Its international cast comprises of Jeanne Moreau, Fernando Rey, Margaret Rutherford, and Ralph Richardson as the narrator, in addition to Welles and Gielgud. The film s harrowing war scenes have proven especially influential, cited in Kenneth Branagh s Henry V as well as Mel Gibson s Braveheart.

Definative Restored Version

Review

"Greatness...Here is a film to treasure" --Roger Ebert

"A dark masterpiece, shot through with slapstick and sorrow. Magic" --Time Out

"Welles majestic portrayal of Falstaff as 'the old England, dying and betrayed'" --Total Film

"A dark masterpiece, shot through with slapstick and sorrow. Magic" --Time Out

"Welles majestic portrayal of Falstaff as 'the old England, dying and betrayed'" --Total Film

"A dark masterpiece, shot through with slapstick and sorrow. Magic" --Time Out

"Welles majestic portrayal of Falstaff as 'the old England, dying and betrayed'" --Total Film

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By D. Kelly on 3 May 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is purely a review of the new Mr Bongo DVD release of Orson Welles' 1965 film "Falstaff" (aka "Chimes at Midnight") released on the 30th of April 2012. I have bought two previous DVD releases of this superb Welles film only to be bitterly disappointed by the extremely poor quality of both. However, as the saying goes, third time lucky. I took the plunge with this new Mr Bongo version. I have previously bought several DVD releases from Mr Bongo and have been pretty impressed by them all, and now I can add their DVD release of "Falstaff" to that list as its an enormous improvement over the others. The image is anamorphic widescreen (enhanced for widescreen televisions) preserving the original 1.85:1 ratio and the grey tones and contrast are impressive. My only very slight concern is the image can appear a little soft at times, but that may be due to the original print used and may be how the film looked theatrically. There are no extras at all and no subtitles, but as far as bare bones DVDs are concerned, the film is really all you need as its quite excellent. The Mr Bongo release is the one to go for. There is no contest.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By B. Perriello on 1 Jun. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Many a devotee of Orson Welles has struggled in vain to find a copy of his 1964/5 masterpiece, 'Falstaff', or 'Chimes at Midnight'. Its inaccessibility is an unusual and unjust fate for the preferred film one of the 20th century's finest directors. Speaking in a 1982 BBC interview, Welles cited 'Falstaff' as his favorite film. Despite its flaws, the peerless cinematic composition is matched by equally fine acting, and Welles' original adaptation of Shakespeare. Weaving together scenes from four different plays that include or mention Falstaff, the resulting text is a masterful interpretation of the Falstaff character.

This version awards the viewer with a clean, fine print. But it still suffers from the flaws of the original: deteriorated sound and poor subtitles. Viewers beware: many, including native anglophones, may prefer subtitles in English. Native and non-native speakers alike will find themselves out of luck: aside from Spanish subtitles, those in English are dreadful. They are not only inaccurate, but are often longer and more difficult to follow than the dialogue on screen.

The 'extras', such as they are, offer a few short texts in Spanish on the principal actors and the life of William Shakespeare, which are hardly worth the while. A series of interviews may well interest the viewer, provided she or he can follow, as all are conducted in Spanish with no subtitling available. On the whole, one would have hoped for a version of this film accessible to all the world. That might have been done through proper subtitling, and the inclusion of extras that reflect on the work of Welles, rather than an exclusive focus on the film's production in Spain.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Master Jacques on 21 Jan. 2011
Format: DVD
One of the finest of all Shakespeare films, and perhaps Orson Welles's masterpiece too, we have been waiting a very long time for "Chimes at Midnight" to appear on an English-produced DVD. Here it is at last.

Has it been worth the wait? For the film of course, yes. The acting, the cinematic imagination, the multi-layered panorama of Shakespeare's themes from the two "Henry IV" plays (with a little from "Henry V" and elsewhere added) from which Welles collated his script - all these are as wonderfully fresh, vivid and rich as when the film first appeared in 1965. "Chimes at Midnight" captures Welles himself as Falstaff at the height of his powers. John Gielgud was never better on film than here, as the tormented Henry IV; whilst the support from Keith Baxter's cold-fish Hal, Margaret Rutherford, Jeanne Moreau, Fernando Rey (dubbed into English) and the rest of a superb cast rises fully to his game.

This Cornerstone Media release uses the same basic restoration as the Spanish/English release Chimes at Midnight (Campanadas a medianoche) [Spanish Import] [DVD] on Suevia Films, so sound and image are not crystal clear. What's disappointing, is that cornerstone have reduced the contrast so that scenes which looked reasonably bold and vibrant in the Spanish release look pale and washed out here. This is a great pity, and the Suevia Films Chimes at Midnight (Campanadas a medianoche) [Spanish Import] [DVD] release is therefore still first choice, although the newcomer has the virtue of being a little cheaper and easier to find.

This film should be in the collection of everyone who cares about Shakespeare, Welles, or the art of cinema itself.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Nov. 2011
Format: DVD
I was lucky enough to see a recent restoration (BFI I think) of this film in my local cinema. It looked fantastic, and miles better than the print on this disc (although there were still some sound sync problems, and the occasional flaw in the film, inherent to the original film stock I believe). I would recommend waiting to see if that restoration comes out on DVD before purchasing this.

All that aside, this is a great film. Orson Welles excels as Falstaff, comic yet tragic, the blustering knight who manages to befriend the King in waiting. He brings out what, for me, are the essential elements of the character. Condensing Henry IV parts 1 and 2, and ignoring the events of The Merry Wives Of Windsor, Welles has managed to get a clear story together that examines Falstaff rather than Prince Hal, an interesting take on these well known plays.

Welles fits the role of the fat knight perfectly, as he chases after women, or wanders around a battlefield avoiding trouble. His take on the role plays up the comic elements, but at times this serves to heighten the tragedy. Also of note is a great performance from John Gielgud as Henry IV. He delivers his lines with such grace, dignity and clear diction that he really is a joy to watch.

The all important final scene, where Falstaff is rejected by Hal has a huge impact on the viewer, and fair takes the breath away.

All in all a great film for anyone who wants an enetertaining and easy introduction to Shakespeare. It is probably one of the more accessible on screen adaptations of the Bard's work. 5 stars.
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