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Home :: Archive :: 1992 :: June ::
Branagh *Henry V* (Continued)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 122. Thursday 4 June 1992.
 
(1)	From: 	William Proctor Williams <TB0WPW1@NIU.BITNET>
	Date: 	Thursday, June 4, 1992, 17:51:00 -0400
	Subj:	[Branagh *Henry V*]
 
(2)	From: 	NAOMI LIEBLER <
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	Date: 	Thursday, June 4, 1992, 20:39:00 EST
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 3.0120  RE: SHK 3.0119  Branagh *Henry V*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		William Proctor Williams <TB0WPW1@NIU.BITNET>
Date: 		Thursday, June 4, 1992, 17:51:00 -0400
Subject:	[Branagh *Henry V*]
 
I have read, with growing contempt, the various trashings of Branagh's
*Henry V*.  I have found it, after more than 30 viewings (both in the
theatre and on video), to be a superb rendering of the play as dramatic
piece (not to mention a low budget rendering of it, unlike Olivier's
government backed version).  I get the strong smell of dislike of
Branagh version by academics because it became POPULAR.  Surely by 1992
we must have reached the position where we can admit the goodness of
the popular.  After all, isn't the stuff we Shakespeareans work on the
popular culture of the English Renaissance (I will allow the U.S. VP to
make comments about Murphy Brown).
 
	William Proctor Williams
	TB0WPW1@NIU
 
(2)---------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		NAOMI LIEBLER <
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Date: 		Thursday, June 4, 1992, 20:39:00 EST
Subject: 3.0120  RE: SHK 3.0119  Branagh *Henry V*
Comment: 	RE: SHK 3.0120  RE: SHK 3.0119  Branagh *Henry V*
 
Dear all and sundry:
 
What IS all this fuss about the Branagh *Henry V*?  Big screen, small
screen, I've seen them both, too, and except for the schmaltzy music
soaking into the already saturated fields of Agincourt, I happened to
like them both.  Why?  Because the film moved me; because Branagh made
me believe that he was Henry (something Lord Olivier, for all my usual
and uncritical adoration, was never able to do, and talk about chopping
a text into messes! [if I may borrow from yet another text]). To be moved
into belief is all I'd ever ask of any performance on whatever size screen.
 
Tad Davis makes an excellent point in posing his final question: *is it
possible to do Shakespeare on film?  Is something essential betrayed by
the almost unavoidable literalness of the camera?*  Indeed, I would add
to this query, what is it that we want a film to do with a Shakespearean
play, and why are we inevitably (well some of us, obviously, from the
e-mail this film has generated) disappointed no matter how valiant the
effort?  What would it take to produce a film for admittedly academic
tastes and pleasures?
 
And Timothy Dayne Pinnow makes another very excellent point in saying that
*Onstage, we can't really create a war, so we look at the war by looking at
the characters that experience it.*  Right.  And, as I recall, that is
precisely the cautionary plea that the Chorus puts before us in this play.
Shakespeare himself knew the limitations of representation. Are we, perhaps,
expecting Branagh to succeed where Willy himself had to enlist our
cooperation?  And then skewering Branagh for failing to out-do Shakespeare?
Say it ain't so, Joe.
 
Then again, for a film to generate this much interactive discussion is no
small achievement in itself.  I say, Bravo Branagh.  If it's not the
greatest Shakespearean film ever made (and I'd be hard pressed to say
what is), at least I'd call it *good enough*.
 
Cheers!
Naomi Liebler
Dept. of English
Montclair State College
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
Internet: "
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