4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Chimes at Midnight - The times that we have seen!,
This review is from: Falstaff-Chimes At Midnight (a.k.a. Chimes at Midnight) [DVD] (1965) (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.