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Thread: Henry V (1989)

  1. #1
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    Dec 2008
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    Has anyone here seen this 1989 adaption of Shakespeare's play and if so what did you think of it?

    I really liked Kenneth Branagh's intepretation of the title role. I feel he gave an emotional performance. The one thing I didn't like was the recital of the famous "Once more unto the breach" speech. I felt it moved along far too quickly without giving the words time to sink in with the audience and thus have more of an emotional impact, plus part of it was cut!!

    That's my only real quibble with this film. The rest was a joy to watch and the host of familiar faces really livened up the film. Plus the "St. Crispin's Day" speech is one of the most raw, emotional and passionate pieces of acting I've ever seen.

    For those of you who have also seen Laurence Olivier's 1944 adaption, how do you rate the two films independently and against each other?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Country: Great Britain
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    Mar 2006
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    I like them both. I would like to also see the BBC Shakespeare production as well, but I'll have to save up as I want to get the entire set.

    The Branagh version does include the death of Bardolph for looting, something that Olivier removed as being too near the knuckle for wartime audiences, I imagine.

    They both have top notch casts of the best in the business at the time.


  3. #3
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Dec 2002
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    Ditto. They're both great. Branagh's is the more gritty but they're both great productions with many fine performances


  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK didi-5's Avatar
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    May 2008
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    Agree with previous comments. Olivier's is perhaps the most stagey and patriotic, and of its time, while Branagh's is the more realistic. But they're both good, as is the BBC Shakespeare version but that suffers from lack of budget.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2009
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    I enjoyed Branagh's version because I think it was the more Shakespearean of the two - all of that document slapping and meaty laughter (Brian Blessed - gawd bless 'im!) and up-against-it cameraderie. Olivier's version seemed stilted and inhibited by comparison.

    In reply to Nick Dando's post: Jonathan Miller's production of King Lear - made for the BBC Shakespeare to which you refer - is the best and most uncompromising version that I have ever seen. It is brilliantly directed and played (on a very limited budget) and the cast (including Michael Hordern as Lear and Frank Middlemass as the Fool) are outstanding. I mention this because if you are saving up for the set and you haven't already seen it, then you are in for a treat.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Mar 2004
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    For me it's Olivier's version I love the way it starts and is encapsulated inside the Globe Theatre and as the action moves to the plains of Normandy the picture moves outside into sweeping landscape. The supporting cast is fantastic and every character adds to the magnificent atmosphere the picture creates.

    Brannagh's portrayal seems contrived and forced to me and his direction seems too laxed maybe because the cast are mostly friends of his .


  7. #7
    Member Country: UK
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    Jan 2008
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    I liked them both.

    Olivier was the warrior king, the unblemished knight. He didn't hang Bandolph, toy with the conspirators or go into any detail of what his troops would do once they breached the wall of Hafleur.

    Branagh was a medieval warlord, a leader of men and a battle winner, but ruthless as well.

    One point; I didn't think anything would match the arrow storm in Olivier's film until I saw Branagh's version

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