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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: December ::
Re: Henry V (and Branagh)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2173  Thursday, 9 December 1999.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 07 Dec 1999 09:49:06 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Henry V

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 07 Dec 1999 08:41:14 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 10.2159 Re: Henry V

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 07 Dec 1999 10:28:33 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2159 Re: Henry V

[4]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Dec 1999 13:20:06 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2159 Re: Henry V


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 07 Dec 1999 09:49:06 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Henry V

Bashing Kenneth Branagh and his films is a new academic sport that we
should do without.  He cuts Shakespeare's plays!  Well, so did
Shakespeare, most probably. It's highly unlikely that the 1599 Globe
audience saw the entire play as we read it today; ditto for Hamlet,
etc., etc. One post made the lucid point that the problem faced by a
modern director is how to translate words from the play into visual
images for the screen. Consider, if you will, Brnangh's entrance of King
Henry V at the start of the council scene: 1.2. While the music swells
(both ominous and grand, at the same time), we see a black silhouette of
the king-one that modern audiences instantly recognize as similar to
Batman AND to Darth Vader!  There it is! The essential ambivalence of
the play strikingly represented in a double figure that, to my mind,
educates a general audience in the same way scholars were educated 20
years ago by Norman Rabkin's famous essay, "Rabbits and Ducks." Or think
of the much maligned close to the battle scenes, where Henry picks up
the dead boy, formerly Falstaff's page, and carries him to the basket
for the dead, while the soldiers sing the famous hymn "Te Deum." On the
one hand, the scene humanizes Henry, who carries the dead boy to his
grave.  On the other hand, THIS IS HENRY'S BURDEN: Who is the real
misleader of youth? Falstaff, or the young King? We can't avoid the
question that Branagh brilliantly puts before us.

I could go on, but I hope my point is clear. Scholars who have an
"ideal" text/version of H5 have to suspend their prejudices and look
carefully at what the director has done. If they do, Branagh's H5 will
appear to be the great film that it surely is.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 07 Dec 1999 08:41:14 -0800
Subject: Re: Henry V
Comment:        SHK 10.2159 Re: Henry V

With a nod to Sean Lawrence's fascinating comments, oh dear, Hawkes will
accuse us of being the same person again, I want to reference the
comments of Nicolas Pullin about the cuts in Branagh's films.  I wonder
what list members will think when they learn that the forthcoming Love's
Labour's Lost weighs in at a bit over 90 minutes, with several songs
bloating the running time.  Remember Branagh's commenting about his
dislike for the verbal humor in Much Ado?  What do you think he cut from
LLL?

Hoping Ken picked good songs,
Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 07 Dec 1999 10:28:33 -0800
Subject: 10.2159 Re: Henry V
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2159 Re: Henry V

Re-reading my last posting, I just noticed a typo:

>Nor, I think, does the rather unedifying spectacle of badly-dressed,
>rain-drenched soldiers hacking at each other in the mud really make
>Henry more "heroic", in the sense that you seem to be using the term.

"More" should be "less".

Cheers,
Se

 

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