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They Might Be Giants … Movie Review

welles othello epic scenes

Orson Welles sometimes said that every character he played in his own films was a variation of Faust, that they had all bartered their souls and lost. Although his Othello, for example, was filmed over four years with uncertain financial backing, Welles still managed to invest some of the scenes with an epic scope. The opening shots of lago, played by Michael MacLiammoir, being hoisted in a basket as a funeral cortege carries off Othello's body, attain a grandeur that Olivier's stagebound 1965 version of the play does not. Neither for that matter does Welles' own Macbeth (1948), shot for very little money at Republic, one of Hollywood's poverty-row studios. Welles' fascination with Shakespeare's Falstaff led to Chimes at Midnight in 1967, an excellent film that assembles materials from four plays about the fat knight. Welles invests the film with a rich nostalgia and sense of tragedy for the end of the chivalric age, and his affectionate reading of Falstaff as one of the few truly good figures in dramatic literature provides for an invariably fresh approach. The battle scenes, announcing the start of the hard modern world, add a dark, epic touch. It was Welles' personal favorite: “If I had to get into heaven on the basis of one picture,” he told British interviewer Leslie Megahey, “that's the one I'd offer up.”

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