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A Chimes For Our Times

June 24, 2017

I was reading a review in which the reviewer noted that the director, though good at directing actors, wasn’t much of a visual stylist. In part this is why certain movies can be good but not great. Certain films are good yet not filmic. There are films and there are films. It’s a critical component of why certain films rise above others.

Criterion has just released a brilliant restoration of  Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight (1965). It is easily one of the best films I’ve seen in recent memory. Chimes actually never got a proper release. It is like watching a new Welles film for the very first time. Not only does it belie the notion that no great work came from Welles in his later years, but here we have one of our greatest directors, in his late period, working at the height of his creative powers.

Welles took material from five of Shakespeare’s plays and shaped them into a screenplay about the relationship between Sir John Falstaff and Prince Hal, who would become King Henry V.  It had deep psychological significance for Welles, this “surrogate” father and son story.

One aspect of the film that really struck me was that you can watch Chimes with the sound turned off and still appreciate its greatness. Welles’ expressive command of the film language is that good. The viewer can silence the words of Shakespeare and still savor the achievement of the filmmaking. It is a lasting testament to Welles’ command of film syntax. It’s why Welles tops most people’s list of the world’s great filmmakers.

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One Comment
  1. Norman Bloom permalink

    It tops my queue…yes…

    On Sat, Jun 24, 2017 at 11:18 PM, f/stop Fitzgerald wrote:

    > Ray/Man posted: “I was reading a review in which the reviewer noted that > the director, though good at directing actors, wasn’t much of a visual > stylist. In part this is why certain movies can be good but not great. > Certain films are good yey not filmic. There are films an” >

    Like

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