Friday, 2 June 2023

The Chimes at Midnight

A poem reflecting on key moments in the Orson Welles masterpiece, which has recently been shown again on "Talking Pictures". I saw it years ago, and watched it again, and as amazed and in awe of it now as I was then. Shakespeare's words, but from five plays, and so visually cinematic. The Battle of Shrewsbury is still once of the most amazing sequences I have ever seen, and without all the modern CGI effects, just wonderful editing and camera work.

As one reviewer said: "Orson Welles’ adaptation of both parts of Henry IV (incorporating bits of Richard II, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor, some Welles and Ralph Richardson’s narration of Holinshed’s Chronicles) was made under near-impossible conditions yet remains arguably the best screen adaptation of Shakespeare."

The Chimes at Midnight

We have heard the Chimes at Midnight
Say Falstaff now to Master Shallow
The Battle of Shrewsbury, such a fight
Arrows rain down, lances death blow

Mistress Quickly fusses in great hall
Prepares the flagon, fulsome sack
Falstaff holds court, mirthful sprawl
Laughs with Hal, falls on his back

The new King Hal arises on his throne
Banishes Falstaff, old man, go home
In stature as a monarch, he has grown
No more the wastrel set to roam

Falstaff is dead, Justice Shallow’s reedy cry
Losing Merrie England, breath left with a sigh

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