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Home :: Archive :: 1992 :: June ::
Other Perspectives on Branagh's *Henry V* and More
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 129. Tuesday, 9 June 1992.
 
(1)	From: 	Luc Borot <ELI16%
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	Date: 	Monday, June 8, 1992, 17:33
	Subj: 	Re: Qs:Book of Sir Thomas More, Various Items [*H5]
 
(2)	From: 	Laurie Osborn <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, June 9, 1992, 14:55:01 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 3.0122  Branagh *Henry V* (Continued)
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		Luc Borot <ELI16%
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Date: 		Monday, June 8, 1992, 17:33
Subject: 	Re: Qs: Book of Sir Thomas More, Various Items
 
In reply to Laura Hayes Burchard on *Sir Thomas More* (Query on 28 May),
among the books listed in the Books Received section of *Cahiers
Elisabethains* n. 41, I read the following, which may be of interest
to our colleague:
 
Vittorio GABRIELI & Giorgio MELCHIORI, ed.: *Sir Thomas More*, a play by
Anthony Munday and others, revised by Chettle, Dekker, Heywood and Shake
speare, The Revels Plays, Manchester UP (Manchester, 1990). ISBN 0-7190-
1632-0.
 
I hope this will be of help to her and others on the list.
 
To add my French (therefore Agincourt loser) view on Branagh's film to
those previously read on this screen, I fully support some of Branagh's
excellent insights into the wealth of the texts of the 2nd tetralogy.
My colleague Patricia Dorval has noticed that the king's first appearence
in the council chamber is lighted in colours and chiaroscuro effects
repeating the cloud-and-sun allegory-simile of *1H4*, 1.2. In his
Birthday Lecture at Stratford last April, Peter Hall, professor of
drama at Cambridge, commented on the cinematographic intertext between
Olivier and Branagh's battle-scenes. Olivier's sweeps the screen right
to left, with the charge of the French morons (too moronic, may I say,
for an insistantly 1944 film dedicated to the RAF who had helped US frogs
quite a lot, and for whom we felt a deep gratitude which did not deserve
Olivier's depiction), whereas Branagh has his camera sweep left to right,
allowing the field fights to be detailed *in their horror*. The stares on
the faces of the English archers (supposed to have been the heroes of the
day, as opposed to the vulgar French peasantry and the half-witted
nobility, for English *and* republican French historiography (19th
century) reduce the heroic danger of the representation of what might
have been a mythical patriotic cliche. The horror they obviously feel
makes the general approach by Brangh look more like a realistic war-film
than a too easy "historical & aesthetic" show, as Olivier did, much to my
dismay.
 
These notations were only jotted on the screen on the spur of the moment
mixing my reactions after the observant comment by Hall, and I hope it
may show that it is possible to look at such a problematic film (& play)
from another national viewpoint! Of course, Branagh never seems to despise
the French, but that's another story . . .
Yours amicalement,
 
Luc BOROT, Montpellier
<ELI16@FRMOP22.BITNET>
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		Laurie Osborn <
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Date: 		Tuesday, June 9, 1992, 14:55:01 -0400
Subject: 3.0122  Branagh *Henry V* (Continued)
Comment: 	Re: SHK 3.0122  Branagh *Henry V* (Continued)
 
RE: the Henry V and Shakespeare on film debate
 
I suppose it is possible to say that there could not be a Shakespearean
production on film to suit academics because we know the plays in a
different way than most movie audiences, but few stage productions satisfy
all of their audience (or include all the text of the play--a frequent
academician's complaint). Whether an academic audience believes it can be
done or not--Shakespeare IS being produced on film. Our particular
technology of illusion may reveal different aspects of the play than stage
technology does, but I don't see that difference as necessarily calling for
a value judgement. Film can and does engage an audience's imagination, as
Lorne Buchman forcefully argues in his new book on Shakespeare on Film
(*Still in Movement* which I can recommend to anyone who is just beginning
to think about these issues). What we have in Shakespeare productions on
film is a wholly new approach to performance and one which allows close
readings of specific performances in ways never before possible. As usual,
our enactments of Shakespeare's plays, both in criticism and in performance,
reveal as much about US as they do about the plays.
 
Laurie Osborne
Dept. of English
Colby College
Waterville, ME 04962
207-872-3304

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