Sunday, February 5, 2017

Tennis Balls

I've written before of my favorite Shakespeare on film, Kenneth's Branagh's Henry V.  Branagh was only 28 when he directed and starred in the movie.  The best way to watch it is with a copy of the play in hand.  It is only then you can appreciate the director's brilliance in his adaptation.  You can see what he edited out, what he transposed and what he imported from Henry IV, Part Two into the film.  You can also see his choices in how to bring the play to life in cinema.  An astounding piece of work.

This scene is from early in the play.  Henry has just heard from his advisers a convoluted and fanciful justification for his claim to the throne of France in addition to that of England.  He knows it is a sham, but it is enough for him to proceed with his planned invasion.  Then, an ambassador from France is admitted for an audience with the King.  Observe how Branagh portrays the changing mood of the Henry, initially seeming quite subdued which makes his eventual outburst even more powerful.  Throughout the film, Branagh's Henry is a man of many moods and it is hard to tell how much of it is real, how much the King is stage managing for the effect on others but it is fascinating to see from start to finish.

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