The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fifth with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France aka Henry V (1944)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fifth with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France</strong> aka <strong class="MovieTitle">Henry V</strong> (1944)

(On Cable TV, February 2019) As regular readers of these reviews know, I do poorly with Shakespearian adaptations. I find the language nigh incomprehensible, the premises overly familiar, the staging artificial, etc. It takes a lot to get me to perk up at a Shakespearian adaptation, but Laurence Oliver’s Henry V does have quite a bit to offer only on a visual level, least of it being shot in colour. Perhaps the most distinctive thing about it is how it operates stylistically like an onion. The opening has a very detailed model shot of Shakespearian London, which gives place to an obviously staged theatrical production, then again to a less stylized production, then to surprisingly cinematographic battles, and then back again to the outer layers as the story wraps up. Considering that I usually spend my time watching Shakespearian productions for the visuals rather than the dialogue or story, this scratched just the right spot for me. Still, I can’t guarantee that I remained awake through it all … but while I was aware of Laurence Olivier’s skills as an actor, in Henry V he shows quite a bit of skill as a director as well.

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