Chimes at Midnight Reviews
September 6, 2012
One of the finest adaptations ever made of a classical play.
April 1, 2011
Up along side Thrpone of Blood and Ran as the greatest Shakespeare film of all. The acting is utterly magnificent, the richest and deepest of Welles' career, and John Gielgud is startingly superb as Henry IV. But it's Welles' storytelling skills here that grab us by the throat and do not let up. His staging of the Battle at Shrewsbury is maybe the greatest battle sequence ever filmed, a worthy heir to those filmed by Eisenstein, Kurosawa, and Griffith. And among Welles' other achievements, it ranks with Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Touch of Evil. In other words, a truly great achievement. That said, there are tiny caveats. The sound quality is occasionally problematic, likely due to the constant running out of money and to Welles probably running out of energy (it took him almost 5 years of shooting, stopping to make more money to regroup his actors and crew-a process that was completed numerous times in the making of this film. Yet for all that, after maybe 15 minutes or so, we get used to it and suddenly the film is buoyant, and begins to take off and then it soars for the remiander of the movie. There's nothing like it out there. And the presence of it and Touch of Evil (especially since Walter Murch's extraordinary restoration) give the lie to the fable that Welles' artistic career went into a life-long decline after Kane and Ambersons. Some decline! Grab this one.