Past Event25 Jul 2016

Chimes at Midnight

No longer available

The Civic

The consensus choice for Orson Welles’ late-career masterpiece, the newly restored Chimes at Midnight has been almost impossible to see in decent quality for decades. Welles had long been fascinated with Shakespeare’s English history plays, and since the late 50s had been working on a project compiled from Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V, that focused on the character of Falstaff – the role Welles was born to play. 
Financing for a film version eventually came together and Welles managed to create one of the greatest adaptations of Shakespeare on the smell of an oily rag, calling in favours from an amazing cast of actor friends (John Gielgud, Jeanne Moreau, Fernando Rey, Margaret Rutherford). 

The spectacular high contrast, deep focus black-and-white photography and Welles’ punchy editing make this filmed Shakespeare of uncommon vitality. Perhaps most remarkably, given the economy of the production, Chimes at Midnight sports one of cinema’s greatest battle sequences. Inspired by Eisenstein, Welles turns the Battle of Shrewsbury into a barrage of sense impressions, an overwhelming mixture of mist, mud and chaotic brutality. 

Thanks to an astonishingly crisp restoration, Orson Welles’ 1965 Shakespearean masterpiece lives anew. Welles gives a mammoth performance as the Bard’s tragic fool Falstaff, along with John Gielgud as Henry IV and Keith Baxter as Hal.

Chimes at Midnight

Spain 1966 
117 mins

Director: Orson Welles

Screenplay: Orson Welles. Based on the plays Henry IV, Part I and Part II; Richard II; Henry V; and The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare

Photography: Edmond Richard

Editors: Elena Jaumandreu, Fritz Muller

Production designers: Orson Welles, José Antonio de la Guerra

Music: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino

With: Orson Welles (Sir John Falstaff), Keith Baxter (Prince Hal), John Gielgud (Henry IV), Norman Rodway (Henry Percy, ‘Hotspur’), Alan Webb (Justice Robert Shallow), Tony Beckley (Ned Poins), Margaret Rutherford (Mistress Quickly), Jeanne Moreau (Doll Tearsheet), Marina Vlady (Kate Percy), Fernando Rey (Worcester)

For tickets and details about films at other venues, please visit the New Zealand International Film Festival website.

Watch this trailer

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