The crowning achievement of Orson Welles’s extraordinary film career, Chimes at Midnight was the culmination of the filmmaker’s lifelong obsession with Shakespeare’s ultimate rapscallion, Sir John Falstaff. Usually a comic supporting figure, Falstaff—the loyal, often soused friend of King Henry IV’s wayward son Prince Hal—here becomes the focus: a robustly funny and ultimately tragic screen antihero played by Welles with looming, lumbering grace. Integrating elements from both Henry IV plays as well as Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, Welles created a gritty and unorthodox Shakespeare film, one that he intended, he said, as “a lament . . . for the death of Merrie England.” Poetic, philosophical, and visceral—with a kinetic centerpiece battle sequence that rivals anything else in the director’s body of work—Chimes at Midnight is as monumental as the figure at its heart.
New digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary featuring film scholar James Naremore, author of The Magic World of Orson Welles
New interview with actor Keith Baxter
New interview with director Orson Welles’s daughter Beatrice Welles, who appeared in the film at age nine
New interview with actor and Welles biographer Simon Callow
New interview with film historian Joseph McBride, author of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?
Interview with Welles while at work editing the film, from a 1965 episode of The Merv Griffin Show