I barely understood anything thanks to the shitty sound of my TV, and yet it still managed to captivate every second. Much like the Bard himself, Welles hasn't aged at all, in fact his films remain incredibly modern to this day. The great icon cannot be contained by dry cinematic philosophies; his foundations were pure frenzy and energy.
Une des adaptations les plus réussies et les plus subtiles d'Orson Welles, qui compose son œuvre en empruntant les textes de quatre pièces de William Shakespeare, trois tragédies et une comédie dans lesquelles, de près ou de loin, apparaît le personnage de Falstaff et dont il a fait la figure emblématique de son interprétation, imposante et magistrale, avec un talent qui crève l'écran... www.cinefiches.com
Welles as a filmmaker remained something of an amateur on an adventure. In the very best sense. He would barely corral resources and go out and make something that he would sort of have to figure out as he went along. Chimes takes a lot of stabs at different things. It is a real mishmash. And there are unquestionably some longueurs. But it would seem unfathomable to deny that this is Orson's finest performance.
Welles pieces together bits from separate plays by the bard to tell the story of Falstaff, played perfectly by Orson himself. The cinematography, like all of his films, is absolutely stellar. The best scene, the big battle, is shot with an in the action feel that gives it a trance like life that engrosses the viewer in it's impressive virtuosity with it's filmmaking.
Luckily I am familiar with the history at play, because I would challenge anyone who claims they understand more than fifty percent of the dialogue. Welles' bulbous on-screen presence is enormous, but I was often straining to decipher his bumbling groans disguised as language. The black and white compositions are incredible, and scenes like the famous Battle of Shrewsbury really come to life in the new restoration.
For me this film is one of the best Shakespeare adaptions. I always liked the way Orson Welles focuses on the character of Sir John Falstaff and the relationship with his royal companion and later King Henry V. by using sequences form five different plays. The actors - especially Welles himself, but also Margaret Rutherford, John Gielgud and Keith Baxter - are marvelous.