Henry V: The Criterion Collection
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Olivier mustered out of the navy to film this adaptation of Shakespeare's history. Embroiled in World War II, Britons took courage from this tale of a king who surmounts overwhelming odds and emerges victorious. This sumptuous Technicolor® rendering features a thrilling recreation of the battle of Agincourt, and Sir Laurence in his prime as director and actor.
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And lest you're expecting a camera pointed at a stage, don't worry. Olivier, who produced and directed most of his Shakespeare films, has actually used the film medium to enlarge his plays' visual scope, while maintaining the intimacy that is the essence of live theatre. Moreover, Olivier is mindful of how daunting the language of Shakespeare is for modern audiences and has modified much of the original script to be more comprehensible, while preserving the feel of Elizabethan English.
Olivier's "Henry V" was to England what Eisentein's "Ivan the Terrible" was to Russia - a familiar history rendered as a national epic, for morale purposes, while audiences were fighting off the Germans during World War II. There are other parallels. For example, both use static, formalized composition, in Henry V's case, meant to resemble the images in medieval illuminated manuscripts and books of Hours. (In Ivan's case, according to Kael, like Japanese Kabuki.) Thus, a soundstage "exterior" backdrop becomes a tableau that serves to enhance, with its flat perspective and subjective scale, the view we have of that fabulous Age of Chivalry, for which the play's Battle of Agincourt was the closing act.Read more ›
I am glad this is not my first exposure to Henry V or I may not have finished the film.
We start out with miniatures of London and zoom in on what is recognizable as the globe. It starts out as a play that is a farce of the play. It is presented as a comedy. We wait patiently through the bulk of the introductory scenes just knowing that any minute it will become a movie. O.K. any minute now. Come on you can do it. And just as you are about to give up it finally becomes a movie with exadurated backdrops. By this time the dramatic introduction that should be set up has passed.
Still even as a movie all the main characters (especially the French) portrayed as fops. The narrator the again is supposed to be moving the story along is short of an orator. We finally see our first horse.
While eating for someone to act we get to have time to think where we have seen the actors before such as The Constable of France (Leo Genn) being in "Green for Danger" (1946).
Finally they forget that this is a farce and just before the dawn of the battle of Agincourt Laurence Olivier actually acts and is in great form. You can really feel that you are there with Henry planning the battle. At least Henry comes alive and saves the film after wasting the introduction and build-up.
There are sections of the play missing but that is understandable given the short time of the film.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I've seen this movie only once, and what thrilled me was the design -- the colors, the costumes, the amazing sets. Read morePublished on May 15 2004 by Clifford Story
From various reference sources, in brief, here's the historical background both to Shakespeare's play and to this film. Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2004 by Robert Morris
My parents bought this DVD for my brother for Christmas, an acting major at the time and a huge fan of Shakespeare. Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2004 by Taryn
This is described often as the first successful screen version of a Shakespeare play. I'd have to disagree, there is a Max Reinhardt version of A Midsummer Night's Dream... Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2003 by R. Albin
This is significantly Olivier's first play, and it was made unfortunately in Pro-War times. An examination of the script shows that Shakepeare was trying to show Henry to be a... Read morePublished on Oct. 16 2003 by Drew
Sir Laurence Olivier's 1945 version of Henry V was not the first attempt to bring Shakespeare to the screen, but it was the first to be successful. Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2003 by P Magnum
I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of flack for this, but am I the only person can't figure out why eveyone loves Laurence Olivier?? Read morePublished on Oct. 28 2002 by Caren
Stung by the lack of commercial success of As You Like It, Olivier undertook to make a popular success of a film version of a Shakespeare play. Read morePublished on Jan. 25 2001 by Scooter
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