Comparing Henry V

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Same Script, Different Stories

The play, Henry V is set in England. It is based around the battle of Agincourt. Olivier and Branagh both made film versions of this play which are completely different from each other. The portrayal of King Henry the V differed in ways that had to do with the time period in which the film was made, and also how the way theatrically the film was presented. Olivier had a glamorous, heroic, and positive attitude towards war. In this film, King Henry is seen as a heroic figure. The soldiers do not seem withered by injury, disease, or deprivation. The French are perceived as confident. Olivier provides a cheerful and patriotic outlook for World War II weary England. This movie was used as propaganda to help take away the heartbreak that was taking place in Nazi Germany. In this version of the film, any negative references to King Henry that talked about him being a ruthless person were cut from this particular script-which was quite different from the Shakespeare version. To portray the king the way Shakespeare did would have most likely made people depressed in a time when they needed to stay positive because of the occurring events of the War. Branagh’s Henry is portrayed quite differently; more negative, and generally more doubtful. In this version he is more similar to the way Shakespeare made him seen is his play. Some examples of that would be the skepticism about the sincerity of the kings virtue, unsure about his right to takeover, and it shows more about the doubt in his ability to be a king from himself, and from others. This film version doesn’t glamorize war at all- instead it shows it as dirty, unfair, and painful. It doesn’t make the victory of winning seem like a positive, it shows it was won at a terrible price, for both sides. The reasons for the mood change in this film are because this version took place post-Vietnam and post Falkins Battle; and to portray war as a positive and glamorous extracurricular...
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