Abstract

This article demonstrates how Orson Welles responds critically to wartime propaganda with his 1965 film Chimes at Midnight. More specifically, it examines the film's engagement with Laurence Olivier's propagandistic film adaptation of Henry V (1944), revealing Welles's opposition to Olivier's nationalist idealizations of soldiers as “bands of brothers,” or noble fraternities with deep bonds. And it demonstrates how Welles's film resists the rhetoric of military elitism that President Kennedy used to spur military recruitment to support U.S. involvement in the Vietnam struggle. Opposing nationalist idealizations of soldiers as noble fraternities with deep bonds and as uncommon individuals with singular abilities, Chimes at Midnight, I argue, depicts martial communities as disunited and inept, and makes clear the collective human cost of elite military individualism.

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