The Adaptation of the Playscript: Does the film stay true to the original, or has the director/screenwriter made changes that affect the storyline or character interpretation. Point to cuts of scenes, lines, or characters and to added scenes. Discuss why you think these changes were made and how they affect interpretation of particular scenes or of individual characters.
The film Henry V, stays true to the original playwright for most of the film, while also incorporating new ideas. The element of the film still stays true to the Shakespearean play which is based on hard consequences of war. Drawing together history, philosophy, emotions, challenges and consequences to bring the hundred years war to life and King Henry V. On St. Crispin’s Day Henry’s strong speech to his soldiers is loudly proclaimed from young Kenneth Branagh with firm strong emphasis and great use of the language. As in the play, Branagh, brings together Henry’s real goal for the soldiers fighting beside him. Which is to conquer France not just for himself but for all of England. The memorable call to arms speech, ” We few, we happy few, we band of brother” ( IV, iii, 18-67), is also included. The Director/screenwriter, Branagh, edited the original play to incorporate scenes that help the viewer understand the story without reading the original Shakespeare play, Henry V. placed as series of flashbacks with Henry V and the character Falstaff before he was king. With joy, laughter, games, drinking, they are hanging out as rascals and friends. These scenes include a brief summary of denouncement of his friend Falstaff and the final repudiation to recall Henry’s former loyalties and alliances.
Casting and Acting: Is the casting appropriate? Discuss at least two leading actors in terms of appearance, voice quality, movement, stage business, quality of acting, and interpretation of the characters they play. Point to at least one scene for each actor to support what you say.
The casting and their acting finishes this production up strong, reading in the period aspect of the film. Kenneth Branagh, the director, uses his own company ,a Democratic community of actors, Renaissance Films, to pull off this production, The clothing is historically accurate contemporary of the period in which Henry V was in, reflecting the original characters. The colors of costumes range from dark to light, muddy to clean, and alternating moods. The chorus in this film instead of being a small group of actors, is one single actor dressed in modern 20th century clothing addressing the camera and narrating the film. Extras are wearing dirt robes,
King Henry is played by Kenneth Branagh, taking on the approach of being a complex king. Not simply idealizing peace, not glamorizing war, but trying to do what’s best for himself and all of England in a just war. With a conflicted personality, Henry, is having to fulfill king’s duties making moves on his inner pursuits in good heart. His voice is strung and delivery is excellent. The costumes that are worn have definite Elizabethan flavor, medieval broadsword included! One scene in particular he is wearing a black and brown long hooded cloak. His tunic in the battle is blue and bright red checked, with steel underneath. Elegant for a king and perfect apparel for what was worn during his time in a battle.
The purpose of the Chorus in King Henry V was to summarize the plot of each act to the audience before the next one, a tool for the audience to not get confused. Derek Jacobi plays the chorus as a one man show. He is dressed in a 20th century long black cloak and has a cleaned up beard. When Derek delivers the plot to the audience, he is most of the time walking, correlating the movement in the story because his purpose is the narrator. He reappears several times during the film, helping explain the progress in a strong clear voice.
Practical: Discuss Mounting in terms of time period, set(s) (sound stage or on location?), costumes, colors, props. Point to specific examples.
The time period was set in the era of King Henry V, nothing fancy, real and to the point. The sets are not out of place and distracting, they are real, simple, and follow the period. The sound stage, and location is realistic and simply elegant. An example of realism in filming can be seen in the Battle of Agincourt. Which takes place in rain and mud, turning it into a muddy, bloody, mess. Filmed in a succession of close-up shots and slow motion montages. Highlighting the dramatics of the scene and showing the results of war and hand to hand combat. Colors that are real in nature are not tampered, and the accent colors on props and clothing are of the period of time. Red for a king, and that can be seen on King Henry a few times throughout the film. The use of props is not excess only when needed like in the battle the swords, the bows, saddles, and such. All staying true to the way Shakespeare plays are performed with little to no props.
Technical: Discuss Mounting in terms of Lighting, Sound, and Camera Work: Is the lighting appropriate to the mood of certain scenes (be specific)? Is the musical score appropriate to the mood of certain scenes? Where does sound/music add to or detract from the quality of specific moments? Camera Work: point to at least one shot or a series of shots that add(s) to or detract(s) from the quality of a specific scene.
The mounting in terms of, lighting, sound, and camera work are all reinforcing the idea of realistic filming. The lighting inside is set to the period, with dim and dark lighting only lit by what seems is candlelight. In the outside scenes the skies make it seem like late fall, with gray sky and windy atmosphere. I can remember one scene in particular with dark lighting, night time, in the forest, the only light being the campfire. Which is radiating off of King Henry V’s face, this shot is beautifully composed and lighted. The musical score is appropriate for the dramatics and realistic feel that is set throughout the film. During the battle of Agincourt there is no music during the beginning of the battle. The SFX’s came into play with the clanking of swords and horses making unsettling noises. The camera work is consisting of highly dramatic shots. Big bold red title starts then rolls into credits with the dramatic music. With a match lit in a shoulder up close up the chorus is the first character we see. Then it goes into a tracking shot of him walking through what looks like the backstage of a theatre set. The first entrance of King Henry is darkly lit and goes from long shot to a tighter shot as he’s walking to the camera all strong. Most of the focus is on short shots bringing you into the actors domain. Most of the film is photographed in medium shots and close ups. The medium shots are capturing those strong facial expressions of King Henry, holding his strong body language within the frame without losing sight of what is around in the scene. The close-ups are to capture the smallest facial expressions, like Henry’s confusion when figuring out wether to wage a war with France. After the battle there’s a long tracking shot of King Henry V carrying the body of young Christian Bail that was killed by the French in battle.
How does this production compare to other Shakespoearean films that you have seen in terms of mounting, directing, acting, and interpretation? Does the director “borrow” from other films or pay homage to other directors?
The differences between Olivier’s and Baranaghs films are staggering. Olivier’s is more comedic, and Baranagh’s is a more realistic approach on King Henry. Borrowing some ideas from Olivier’s film such as including the battle of Agincourt, and staying true to the text. Both films didn’t include the murder of the French prisoners. Branagh focused more on Henry’s inner turmoil, Olivier’s Henry seemed more sure of himself and his decisions. Olivier’s was made during WWII and was more of a call to arms, Branagh was a more realistic combat period movie.
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