12 March 2013

Henry V (1989)

Henry V 1989
  • Director: Kenneth Branagh.
  • Based on Book: Shakespeare
  • Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed, Ian Holm, Richard Briers, Robbie Coltrane, Christian Bale, Geraldine McEwan, Judi Dench, Paul Scofield, Michael Mahoney, Christopher Ravenscroft
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • All of them in dozens of films. They’re all over this blog.
  • Why bought: Shakespeare and Branagh
  • Seen: Four or five times before. Now: September 3, 2012

 This was the movie that was most instrumental in turning me into a Shakespeare freak.  It was shown on Swedish TV sometime in the early ‘90’s – neither Hal nor I had ever heard of Kenneth Branagh or had much clue about Henry V, or Shakespeare, as far as that goes.
I will never forget the enormous wow feeling that started glowing and spreading until I was fairly tingling with excitement the first time.
Since then I’ve seen it several more times and we’ve read the play twice so we know what’s going on.
It still tingles. No, it grabs me and fills me with…
Oh never mind. I love this movie.  I could fill this review with all the superlatives you can think of (believe me, it will be even worse when we get to Branagh’s Hamlet) and it still wouldn’t be right. So I’ll just mention, let’s say, five things I love about it:
  1. The entrance of Henry into the great hall – backlit, dramatic, enormous.
  2. The shakiness in Branagh’s voice after his really nasty threat of violence against the people of Harfleur indication, “Whew, I’m glad they surrendered because I really couldn’t do all that horrible stuff.”
  3. The Saint Crispian speech – how can one not be stirred, anti-nationalist, anti-patriot, anti-war activist though one is.
  4. The crescendo of music starting with a single voice and building up to hundreds as the tragic aftermath of the horrible battle is revealed.
  5. Emma Thompson’s painful, reserved, resigned acceptance of Henry’s wooing/conquering.

Rating? Well, what did you expect? 10 * of 10.  No. 100 * of 100.  What does that leave for Hamlet?


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