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Cambridge Film Festival 2012: Chimes At Midnight

the tale of bengwy

Orson Welles seemed to spend most of his career having his ambitious and high-minded projects thwarted and suppressed by commercially-minded Hollywood studios with the result that a lot of his films have been actually quite difficult to see, at least in the unbutchered states that he intended. Welles sometimes said that the favourite of all the films he directed was Chimes At Midnight, his loose 1966 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays, but I can’t remember it ever being shown on television, and it looks like it’s only been issued on DVD within the last couple of years. The Cambridge Film Festival have got it though, so despite my ignorance of both the source texts and this period of English history in general, I figured I should see it while I had a chance.

The first surprise, given Welles’s reputation as a bit of an iconoclast, is how respectful and…

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