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Home :: Archive :: 1992 :: June ::
Branagh *Henry V*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 120. Thursday 4 June 1992.
 
(1)	From: 	Tad Davis <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, June 3, 1992, 22:32:01 -0400
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 3.0119  Branagh *Henry V*
 
(2)	From: 	Timothy Dayne Pinnow <
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	Date: 	Thursday, June 4, 1992, 12:22:56 CDT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 3.0119  Branagh *Henry V*
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		Tad Davis <
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Date: 		Wednesday, June 3, 1992, 22:32:01 -0400
Subject: 3.0119  Branagh *Henry V*
Comment: 	RE: SHK 3.0119  Branagh *Henry V*
 
 
> My question is:  is this one of those films that works better in the
> theatre and less well on home video?  Or have others who have voiced
> problems with it seen it on the wider movie screen?
 
The sound certainly works better in the theater. If the theater has a good
sound system, the floor vibrates when the arrows let fly at Agincourt, and
you can hear the initial plotting between Canterbury and Ely without
hopping up to adjust the volume.
 
My admiration for Branagh's achievement in this film certainly provoked a
spate of contrary views! I offer only a couple of additional comments, at
least until I have a chance to study the original texts. In the meantime,
my admiration remains undiminished (though seasoned with considerable envy
at his being able to pull it off at the tender age of 28). One of the
things I have always enjoyed is the way the action of the movie parallels
the difficulties involved in the making of the movie. Branagh was Henry
trying to marshal his happy few to victory, and the astonishing
three-minute battlefield panormama was his Agincourt.
 
But as always, hearing the other side challenges one to rethink and
reevaluate.
 
A couple of questions to (perhaps) broaden the discussion. Which film, or
films, have come closest to Shakespeare -- remaining faithful to the
dictates of cinematic form without (unnecessarily) compromising the
complexity of Shakespeare's conception? Or (on a more basic level), which
ones do you enjoy enough to watch again and again? Or (on a less basic
level), is it possible to do Shakespeare on film? Is something essential
betrayed by the almost unavoidable literalness of the camera?
 
Tad Davis

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(2)-----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		Timothy Dayne Pinnow <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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Date: 		Thursday, June 4, 1992, 12:22:56 CDT
Subject: 3.0119  Branagh *Henry V*
Comment: 	Re: SHK 3.0119  Branagh *Henry V*
 
Fellow SHAKSPEReans,
 
Steve Schrum's argument question strikes me as very telling.  Having seen
Branagh's *Henry V*  several times on the big screen as well as several
times on video, I definitely find that it inevitably reaches students and
myself better on that wonderful big screen where the battle and the death
and the scope of Branagh's vision can overwhelm the senses of the viewer.
Branagh's film is largely about war and peace and the gray area in between
those poles.  Having said that, I also find the film a bit disappointing,
particularly in relation to the Guthrie theatre production I witnessed in
1990, and my own experience as a member of a cast at the Illinois
Shakespeare Festival in 1989.  In both cases, as well as other productions
I've witnessed, the play is about the person--the man--and his struggles to
become a true king within the situation of war.  Onstage, we can't really
create a war, so we look at the war by looking at the characters that
experience it.  That, for me, is where the empathy takes place.
Unfortunately, Branagh's spectacle, while still a wonderful spectacle,
never created in me any empathy for Henry's humanity.
 
 
        	        	       	   Timothy Dayne Pinnow
        	       	       	       	   Ass't. Prof. of Theatre
        	       	       	       	   St. Olaf College
        	       	       	       	   1520 St. Olaf Ave
        	       	       	       	   Northfield MN  55057
        	       	       	       	   ph. 507/646-3327
        	       	       	       	   Internet: 
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