Thanks to Nathaniel for sending me this, a neat overview of master filmmaker Orson Welles’ career —with an eye toward his spiritual sympathies.


“I try to be a Christian. [But] I don’t pray really, because I don’t want to bore God.” In fact, prayer was almost as uncomfortable subject for Welles as the birds and the bees. He told the French New Wave magazine Cahiers du Cinema , “In my opinion, there are two things that can absolutely not be carried to the screen: the realistic presentation of the sexual act and praying to God.”

I can never talk about film for long without adverting to Welles, the greatest director this country has produced to date. To watch Citizen Kane with even the most attenuated artistic sensitivity is to


ensure that you will see every film thereafter with new eyes.


But many laud his patchwork Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight , as a close second in brilliance. In the CT piece, Welles says of the tragicomic knight:


“If Shakespeare had done nothing but that magnificent creation, it would suffice to make him immortal.”


A Playboy magazine interviewer mentioned to Welles that poet W.H. Auden called Falstaff a “Christ figure,” to which Welles agrees, but clarifies: “I think Falstaff is like a Christmas tree decorated with vices. The tree itself is total innocence and love.”

In an interview with director Peter Bogdanovich, Welles expounded on his almost sacramental construal of Falstaff:


I think he’s one of the only great characters in all dramatic literature who is essentially good. He’s good in the sense that the hippies are good . The comedy is all about the gross faults in the man, but those faults are so trivial: his famous cowardice is a joke—a joke Falstaff seems to be telling himself against himself . . . But his goodness is basic—like bread and wine.

Articles by Austin Stone

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