ORSON WELLES CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT/FALSTAFF
„A Ribbon of Dreams“ Ein Band von Träumen - aus dem Buch von Peter Cowie über Orson Welles
„ I think Falstaff is like a Christmas tree decorated with vices. The tree itself is total innocence and love.“ Orson Welles
„What is difficult about Falstaff,“ beliefs Welles, „is that he is the greatest conception of a good man, the most completely good man, in all drama. His fault are so small and he makes tremendous jokes out of little faults. But his goodness is like bread, like wine...“ Critics who complain that Falstaff and the film are not sufficiently rumbustious have a superficial notion of one of Shakespeare’s most tragic figures. A men of the world, Falstaff is not easily disillusioned and when, at Hal’s coronation, he is rejected in earnest, the shock is too much for even his stout heart. The End of Falstaff implies for Welles the end of an era, the end of chivalry, of „Merrie England.“ Hal’s cynical pragmatism represents the professional approach to life that carries him (as Henry V) to victory over the French. Yet for Falstaff (and one feels, for Welles), friendship and personal loyalty are more important than public glory.
Though to Elizabethan audiences Falstaff might have been the personification of Vice-gluttony, idleness and lechery all easily discernible in his character – he was a well-loved amalgam of temptations too. Welles, tailor-made fort he role embodies Falstaff’s beneficent qualities. As A.R.Humphreys has written, „He is vicious, yet vices are a tonic for human nature; he exploits his dependants, yet they remain indissolubly atenched to him; he lies, yet would be dismayed if his lies were to be believed. He laments his age, corpulence, and lost agility, yet he behaves with the gaiety of youth, has intellecutal legerity to offset his bulk, and is agile whenever it suits him“
Welles conveys Falstaff’s hedonistic spirit by retaining the long pean to sack; by underlining his participation in any escapade…
Falstaff’s vivid personality runs like a fugue through five of Shakespeare’s plays. Welle’s achievement is to have condensed and intensified this tragedy (as Verdi did with Othello) while in no way diminishing Shakespeare’s vision. There is as noble a sense of catharsis at the end of „Chimes at Midnight“ as there is the death of Othello or Macbeth. For Falstaff, „a silhouette agagainst the sky of al time.“ as Welles has termed him, comes closer than any other figure to expressing all that Welles holds good and true and dear.
„A Ribbon of Dreams“ - aus dem Buch von Peter Cowie über Orson Welles