Henry V Essay, Research Paper
email: firstname.lastname@example.org: Henry VA COMPARISON OF OLIVIER S AND BRANAGH S FILM ADAPTATION OF HENRY V The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast two film adaptations of William Shakespeare s Henry V. Laurence Olivier s revision was filmed in 1944. This was his first endeavor at film directing and Henry V won him an Academy award for distinguished accomplishment as an actor, a producer, and a director. Olivier s aim was to produce an entertaining nationalist film for propaganda purposes. Kenneth Branagh was also the director and star of his version of Henry V. This movie gained Branagh international attention. His goal was to stress the devastation of war. Laurence Olivier s movie was produced during World War II. The British government gave its permission for Olivier s undertaking because it was to be a patriotic film used for propaganda purposes. The objective of the film was to awaken the memories of the British to a past glorious victory against a European enemy (in this case the French not the Germans) at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 (http://chomsky.arts.adelaide.edu.au /person/DHart/Films/HenryVOlivier.html). Olivier s intention was to make an entertaining nationalist film that would create loyalty to the British nation and pride in its culture and history. The film was dedicated to the commandos and airborne troops of Great Britain. To the commandoes and airborne troops of Great Britain the spirit of whose ancestors it has been humbly attempted to recapture in some ensuing scenes, this film is dedicated (Henry V, Olivier)Olivier omitted about one-fourth of Shakespeare s play in order to emphasize the battle of Agincourt. The battle was not realistic. There was no blood or suffering shown. The day was sunny and bright. The scenery was not very realistic either. It was a beautiful countryside that looked similar to a painting or scenery used for a play, rather than a movie. The battle scenes showed the British as very courageous and exalted war. This was done because Britain was at this time involved in World War II, and the film was very popular with the wartime audiences. It ran for 5 months in London and 46 weeks on Broadway (http://chomsky.arts.adelaide.edu.au/person/DHart/Films/HenryVOlivier. html). Contrary to Olivier s goal to glorify war, Kenneth Branagh wanted to show the devastation of war. In Branagh s film, the Battle at Agincourt was very realistic. The battle was frightening and bloody. It showed many wounded and dead men and horses. Kenneth Branagh said, All the blood-and-guts was quite deliberate. In fact, if eyewitness accounts of the Battle of Agincourt are to be believed, we were rather modest in our representation of it. It was very unpleasant, undignified, inelegant butchery. (file:///Ul/win95.lab/Desktop/HenryVBranagh.html). Branagh s battle took place on a dark rainy day. The men fought in the mud, and the water on the ground turned red from the blood. His film was made after the Vietnam War, and some feel the film could be called anti-war because of its realistic portrayal of the devastation of war. William Shakespeare used war in many of his plays. He appeared to hold the view that peace made a society soft and decadent (like the French court in Henry V ) and that war was a useful thing at times because it made a society tough and healthy. Weak elements were destroyed and the stronger elements were given room to grow and flourish (http://chronsky.arts.adelaide.edu.au/person/DHart/Films/HenryVOlivier.html). This is the view that Laurence Olivier used in his film. On the other hand, Branagh s perspective on war was different. In his film, war was considered sometimes necessary, but all effort should be made to avoid it because of the devastation it caused. Another feature that showed Olivier s film was done for propaganda purposes and also showed his view on war was the way he portrayed the French. In his film the French characters were comical and somewhat feminine. The French King appeared weak and stupid. His eyes were bulging. In one scene, he fainted from fear of the English. At the end of the movie when King Henry and King Charles met to discuss the terms of peace, Queen Isabel does a lot of the talking for King Charles. The other noblemen of the French court were also depicted as foolish characters. Before the battle, one knight had to be lowered on to his horse by ropes. This showed their foolishness, and it also showed that even though the French were heavily armed and outnumbered the English, the English conquered them. The French knights rode black horses but King Henry of England rode a white horse which was symbolic of good and evil.
Branagh s depiction of the French monarch and nobility was more realistic than Olivier s and not comical. In this movie, King Charles appeared worried and concerned and Queen Isabel does not appear. Branagh does show nationalism because he portrays the English as much braver and smarter than the French and more willing to make great sacrifices for their country. Olivier s film began as a stage presentation in Shakespearean time with an audience and gradually developed into a movie. Throughout the movie much of the scenery looked more like scenery used in a play. In the opening scene, where the bishops were trying to justify Henry V s right to attack France, it was very comical. On the other hand, Kenneth Branagh s film was a more realistic serious version with flashbacks of the past. The same scene with the bishops was very solemn.Olivier left out the scenes about crimes against humanity committed by the English. Branagh reinstated these scenes. His movie included the execution of King Henry s friend Bardolph for his war crime of robbing a church. It also had the dismissal of three of King Henry s friends for conspiracy and treason. Branagh also showed war crimes of stealing from the dead committed by the English on the battlefield. Olivier also left out the barbaric threat made to the governor of Harfleur by King Henry and the violent behavior Henry displayed before his war cabinet.Both Olivier and Branagh depicted King Henry as a brave and sensitive soldier. They both saw the King as noble but also as a scheming politician. He used the clergy to justify his invasion of France. He claims to worry about the needs of his men, but he entered the war for some personal ambition. His bravery and love for his men are shown in his moving speeches. His gentle side is also shown when he tries to persuade Princess Katherine to love him. Branagh really captured King Henry s sensitive and caring personality when the exhausted King carried the dead boy to his grave. There were many similarities in the composition of Olivier s and Branagh s adaptation of Shakespeare s play Henry V , but there were also differences. Branagh s version would probably appeal more to modern audiences than Olivier s because it was a more realistic depiction. The costumes and pageantry were much more elaborate in Olivier s film. Both directors utilized nationalism in their films. In both films, King Henry s speech to his men before the battle of Agincourt would stir extreme loyalty, pride, and courage in the English. In Branagh s version, the scene after the battle where the King carried the dead boy to his grave and the singing of Non Nobis which claimed God was on Henry s side, showed the horror of war, but it also created a strong feeling of pride in the King and the country of England. Olivier displays the English flag more than Branagh, and at the end of his film when Henry and Katherine marry, he shows the English and French symbols uniting. Both Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh were great Shakespearean actors and directors. They both used Shakespeare s play and made films that attracted audiences of their time. Bibliographyhttp://chomsky.arts.adelaide.edu.au/person/DHart/Films/HenryVOlivier.htmlClassic Film Scripts: Henry V by William Shakespeare. Produced and Directed byLaurence Olivier. (London: Dolby Corporation, 1978). file:///Ul/win95.lab/Desktop/HenryvBranagh.html