Henry V Reviews
Mais la mise en scène de Branagh, le jeu de Branagh énorme (il avait à peine 30 ans), ce que ça raconte et ce que ça veut dire, c'est un grand film !
(avec Christian Bale encore tout jeune dans un petit rôle et Ian Holm qui, au détour de quelques plans, déchire !
I'm not a Shakespearian scholar. So this is just a review from a lay person. Most of it is understandable which is quite important. More importantly, almost all of it is quite passionate and compelling. The most rip roaring is the iconic St. Crispin's Day speech. The other interesting thing is the introduction of Kenneth Branagh as a great Northern Ireland director. In many ways, this signals something new.
The main flaws I would specify for Henry V is simply the fact that people who are not fans of William Shakespeare will most likely find flaws with the film's language and plot. Admittedly, I never really liked Elizabethan but in Henry V I was easily able to tolerate it due to the way that the actors dealt with it. But the story was not the most consistently interesting piece, and considering that it ran at a consistently slow pace which largely decreased in speed during the latter half of the film. Still, even with that and the running time of the film, I had come to expect it from William Shakespeare. Although Henry V did not change my feelings about him, it did reveal to me that there is a lot of potential in adapting his plays if the filmmaker can get it right. The name of the man who was able to get it right is Kenneth Branagh, and although he may not have been a mastermind when he made Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or especially not when he crafted Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, he manages to put all of his passion and spirit into Henry V which results in it coming off as an excellent film.
Maintaining the importance of what made Henry V a popular play, Kenneth Branagh transfers the language of the playscript over to film with a lean script that maintains the integrity of the dialogue while removing minor elements but still maintaining the essence of the drama in the film. The script manages to glamourised Elizabethan language and give a lot of material to the actors instead of forcing them to act in circles and deliver the same repetitive dribble for the course of the film. Henry V deals with the material in a refreshing manner, and it transcends the countless other generic film adaptations by capturing the true passionate essence of the play which actors put into when they have a true opportunity.
Henry V is more than a Shakespearian film. It is a portait of Henry V, the King of England and a visual spectacle at the same time. Visually, Henry V is spot on. Easily creating the setting for its early 15th century setting, Henry V capitalises on some beautiful scenery and production design which has dead on detail, as well as the Academy Award winning costumes which makes the characters feel like genuine figures of the time period. It is all captured with firm cinematography and edited well against the backdrop of a powerfully atmospheric musical score. Everything in Henry V looks good which means that Kenneth Branagh succeeds at transcending the usual limitations of the text as a theatrical play and successfully justifies adapting it for cinema with a terrific film. It takes a lot to impress me with a Shakespearian film, and without fail Kenneth Branagh was able to achieve that.
And excellently enough, Kenneth Branagh manages to find a balance between ensuring that the film is a good analysis of the characters and a largely scaled spectacle at the same time. His direction is spot on because he harnesses the nature of the script very well and directs it to serious success. And yet it does not match up to his finest talent on the film which is the effort of his leading performance.
Kenneth Branagh's leading performance as the titular Henry V is just spectacular. Directing himself to an exceptional performance, Kenneth Branagh gives it his best in a performance which immediately immerses himself in Shakespeare history. Usually I find Shakespeare's dialogue to be really artificial, but thanks to the pure strength of Kenneth Branagh's line delivery it comes off as truly organic. You can see him just sink so deeply into the role that he embodies Henry V and grasps the true essence of the power presented to him. Henry V features quintessentially the most defining Kenneth Branagh performance, and it takes no time before viewers really view the endeavor of his skills as an actor and a man of Shakespeare. He is just stunning because he delivers his lines with such ease and powerful acting charisma, and it is just thoroughly beautiful skill that he projects. Kenneth Branagh is fearless in his leading performance and is able to stand with a sophisticated and heroic stature while articulating all of his lines powerfully which results in him giving a performance which is just brilliant. I gained a lot of respect for Kenneth Branagh after viewing his performance in Henry V because his performance was an act of pure poetry.
Brian Blessed is a perfect casting decision in Henry V. The man has a legacy for his deep and booming voice which he used in iconic performances in Black Adder and Flash Gordon, and so when he delivers his lines in Henry V they come out with some extreme power. He manages to have some moments of true domination in Henry V and makes himself a true genial presence in no time at all. Brian Blessed takes on a pivotal role in Henry V with natural skill, and so his performance ends up being one of the most memorable of the cast.
Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane and Judi Dench make powerful supporting efforts as well.
So although it essentially has the same issues that every Shakespearian film adaptations cannot transcend, Henry V is one of the finest adaptations of his plays that I have seen to date thanks quintessentially to Kenneth Branagh who takes the opportunity to direct the film to success in terms of drama and style, handle the script with firm knowledge of how to keep the material important and give a performance which is one of the finest of any Shakespearian acting performances I have ever seen in my life.