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Henry V(1989)

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  • Henry V(1989)

    What are folks thoughts on the film Henry V by Kenneth Branagh, an Irishmen depicting Henry V? I will say that this one scene of Henry V was one of the greatest scenes I have ever watched in film history. The film Henry V is based on a play by William Shakespeare which has the same title as the film by Branagh. I have always felt that Branagh was one of films best contributors. And Henry V was in fact the first film that Branagh directed, he did a great job with it IMO. Branagh also wrote the screenplay for Henry V. The film itself reminds of me Shakespear type plays and films, wrt the dialogue and direction of the film.

    Long live the Lionheart! Please watch this video
    Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.

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  • #2
    A young Christian Bale is also seen in a supporting role in Henry V.
    Long live the Lionheart! Please watch this video
    Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.

    George S Patton


    • #3
      It's a good film right up to the battle where it trips up, sprawls on the stage then gets up acting normal to the end. A bit like Olivier's stab...
      ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
      All human ills he can subdue,
      Or with a bauble or medal
      Can win mans heart for you;
      And many a blessing know to stew
      To make a megloamaniac bright;
      Give honour to the dainty Corse,
      The Pixie is a little shite.


      • #4
        Branagh released his version in 1989. He wisely chose not to try to duplicate Olivier’s wonderful vision of the play within a movie. His movie opens with the Chorus (Derek Jacobi) on a deserted sound stage. He throws open doors to launch the story in movie form (not as a play). The Archbishop’ discussion of Salic Law in front of Henry and his council is treated seriously unlike in Olivier’s. The arrival of the French ambassador with his mocking tennis balls is answered with brewing, but restrained anger by Henry.

        Branagh not only has the scenes following Bardolph, Pistol, and Nim, but throws in some flashbacks to the “wastrel” Harry’s nights with Falstaff. These scenes are taken from Shakespeare’s Henry IV. They make it easier to understand Henry’s transition from immature prince to mature king. Branagh also adds a scene from the play that does not appear in Olivier’s version. The scene depicts Henry uncovering treachery by three of his nobles. He sets them up by getting them to argue for strict punishment for a soldier who spoke against the king. We see the keen intelligence of Henry in this great scene.

        The siege of Harfleur is filmed at night and has a ghastly tinge to it. Henry gives his “Once more into the breach…” speech which more clearly results in another failed assault than in Olivier’s. Also, Branagh includes Henry threatening rape and killing if the city does not give up. Branagh was obviously not restrained by the need to make Henry a saintly hero for the British people to rally around during the dark days of WWII, like Olivier was.

        The scene with Princess Katherine and her maid are similarly done without subtitles and are equally playful and light. Emma Thompson is a better actress than Renee Asherson, but not decisively so in this role.

        The march to Calais is more realistic with its rain and mud. Branagh decided to include the hanging of Bardolph for violating his no looting policy. The scene did not fit Olivier’s goal for the film, but it is apparent Branagh was determined to expose every aspect of Henry’s complex personality. He even goes so far as reenacting a hanging that is just mentioned in the play.

        The night before the battle focuses on the arrogance and hubris of the French knights and the gloom of the British foot soldiers. Branagh’s Henry roams the campfires more realistically incognito. His reaction to criticism of the king by common soldiers is more appropriately seething.

        Branagh’s “Band of Brothers” speech is similarly staged, but better orated with a beautiful pairing of words with music. The reaction of the soldiers is also more integral to the scene than in Olivier’s. Branagh actually spits as he declaims. No second take for him.

        In the battle, we see the fear in the British soldiers’ eyes. There is no cavalry charge and we jump straight into the melee. It is realistically muddy. Branagh makes the questionable decision to have the archers firing volleys into the melee, thus subjecting the British knights (including Henry) to friendly fire. This is not only tactically unsound, but inaccurate historically as the archers had ceased fire when the knights closed. By this time in the battle, the archers were wading in with their daggers and mallets. Branagh gets to this, adding the nice touch of some archers looting the bodies. Branagh does a good job of depicting the chaotic nature of a medieval battle with its “fog of war”. Some of the action is in slow motion, naturally. York dies a graphically violent death here where in Olivier’s version we only see the corpse. The French Constable is rescued and soon after dies. There is no duel with Henry. Some French knights break through to attack the baggage train and kill the boys (including Christian Bale). This is similarly inaccurate to Olivier’s, but Branagh does not imply the villains were from the French leadership group. At this point the Herald arrives to tell Henry the day is his. Henry does not return to the battle to get vengeance for the dead boys because the battle is over. Instead Henry carries the Boy’s dead body as a hymn swells in the background. The movie should have ended here! There are 17 minutes of denouement left, unfortunately.

        The wooing of Kate is not remarkably different than in Olivier’s version, but Branagh and Thompson give the dialogue a more genuine feel. This is a weak part of the play and the movie does its best to reduce the embarrassing aspects of the whirlwind courtship.

        In my opinion, this is the best Henry V movie. It is better than Olivier's version and immensely better than the recent "The King".


        • #5
          This is one of my favorite war movies. Perhaps the best movie about the pre gun powder era. Okay I know they had a few gunpowder weapons, but by and large this was an old style fight with arrows, bolts, lances, spears and swords.
          "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
          Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!


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