Representing Invisible Politics of Shakespearian Plays in Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight


The full construction of the main character Falstaff, as a figure in the Shakespearean movie adaptation Chimes at Midnight, exists through the intertextual relationship between the film and the original Shakespearian plays. In this study, I argue that much of this intertextual material is non-existent in the film, but relies in its availability the audience’s own mind watching the film. By merely hinting at an incomplete material, the film recreates the entire feeling of a seemingly complete Shakespearean material with its original political preoccupations. This illusion of the complete text is shown in the isolated battle scenes that do not contribute much to the development of Falstaff, and the impotent military imageries in the film. However, the scenes where Falstaff’s foils are presented: the Earl of Worcester’s lies and the dying lamentations of Hotspur, are more evidently meant to give the impression that the film significantly adapt the original plays’ political motives that the film do not really concern itself with. 

Keywords: Chimes at Midnight, Orson Wells, Intertextuality, Shakespeare, Falstaff, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV 

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