“If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie, [Chimes at Midnight] is the one I would offer up . . . I think I succeeded more completely with that than with anything else.” —Orson Welles
The 2015 celebration of Orson Welles’s centennial continues, thanks to this new digital restoration of Chimes at Midnight, unavailable for decades. The film is the culmination of a lifelong obsession for Welles (1915–1985) with Shakespeare’s rapscallion, Sir John Falstaff. Appearing in several plays, Falstaff is a robustly funny and ultimately tragic antihero, played by Welles with towering, lumbering grace. Integrating elements from various plays, Welles created a philosophical poem with a kinetic centerpiece battle sequence as impressive as anything in his filmography. The cast includes Keith Baxter, Sir John Gielgud, and Jeanne Moreau.