12 March 2013

Henry V (1944)


Henry V 1944
  • Director: Lawrence Olivier
  • Based on Book: Shakespeare
  • Cast: Lawrence Olivier, Renee Asherson and many other oldies
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • None, really. Olivier is Olivier and I’ve seen some: As You Like It, Richard III, Hamlet, Spartacus, Sleuth, Oh! What a Lovely War.
  • Why bought: Shakespeare
  • Seen: once – September 2, 2012

      It’s not really fair to Olivier to watch his version after having seen Branagh’s version several times but it can’t be helped. 
This is a classic and it has been granted more praise and accolades than can be counted.  It is indeed a colorful movie, an ambitious achievement for 1944.
But it didn’t win me over.  I found it a bit of a plod.  Shakespeare’s lines are not spoken as though by real people – they are speechified and the whole movie sounds like Great Lines Written by Shakespeare.  Olivier is the worst. He’s so aware that he’s Olivier the Shakespeare Genius.  I realize that styles change and to viewers of the 40’s this was a great Shakespeare interpretation but it doesn’t work for me.
This production is not a drama, it’s something between a farce, a thriller and a pageantry. The final scene between Henry and Katherine is sweet and flirty and absolutely wrong.
It came out as World War Two was coming to a close (although it had a ways to go) and of course there were all kinds of patriotism in the air which may explain why it got so many awards.
It gets no awards from me.  The 2 ½ * of 5 that it gets from me are because it’s Shakespeare and because the colors were nice.

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