Film Club – Chimes at Midnight
Thursday, January 11 @ 7:30 pm| $10
Doors open 7PM | Film at 7:30PM
Free Admission for Film Club Members | $10 for Member Guests and General Public
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Chimes at Midnight is a 1965 English-language Spanish-Swiss co-produced film directed by and starring Orson Welles. The film’s plot centers on William Shakespeare’s recurring character Sir John Falstaff and the father-son relationship he has with Prince Hal, who must choose between loyalty to his father, King Henry IV, or Falstaff.
Welles said that the core of the film’s story was “the betrayal of friendship.” It stars Welles as Falstaff, Keith Baxter as Prince Hal, John Gielgud as Henry IV, Jeanne Moreau as Doll Tearsheet and Margaret Rutherford as Mistress Quickly. The script contains text from five of Shakespeare’s plays; primarily Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2, but also Richard II and Henry V, as well as some dialogue from The Merry Wives of Windsor. Ralph Richardson’s narration is taken from the works of chronicler Raphael Holinshed.
Initially dismissed by most film critics, Chimes at Midnight is now regarded as one of Welles’ highest achievements, and Welles himself called it his best work. Welles felt a strong connection to the character of Falstaff and called him “Shakespeare’s greatest creation”. Some film scholars and Welles’s collaborators have made comparisons between Falstaff and Welles, while others see a resemblance between Falstaff and Welles’s father. Disputes over the ownership of Chimes at Midnight made it difficult to view the film legally until recently. It was released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray in 2015. A new restoration by Janus Films and The Criterion Collection was screened at the Film Forum in New York.