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Adaptation of Henry V

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  1. Introduction
  2. About War
    1. Conflicts.
    2. An enemy: France.
    3. Battles: Harfleur, Agincourt.
  3. Men and women: a survey of people
    1. A leader
    2. Men at war
    3. Katharine
  4. Conclusion

By analyzing and studying the main themes (war, leadership, relationships between human being) developed in both the films (and the interpretation made by the two directors), we will see that, although adapted from the same play, the potrayal of Henry is quite different. In both versions of the play (as in the plays itself!), Henry V, after the intervention of the chorus, begins on conflicts (conflict between the church and the king, conflict between England and France), conflicts that will lead to a war, but this path towards war is different in Olivier's and Branagh's version.

[...] It doesn't mean that Olivier's Henry V is a bad movie, it just means that, compared to Branagh's one, it cannot survive outside this peculiar context of propaganda. Branagh's version is obviously more universal. But, I also think the two films cannot really be compared. Olivier, in 1944, couldn't do anything else than a patriotic movie, and therefore, I think he chose to make a film on theatre and on Shakespeare. I had seen Branagh's version before, and, when seeing the first part of Olivier's Henry I was first astonished and disappointed by his beginning in the Globe Theatre. [...]


[...] The arrival of the king is treated in a very clever way, which is both full of suspense and ambiguous: we just see a figure, lighted from behind (which underlines a man of strength and power) and we can only observe the lords' reactions. We discover the face of the king when he sits down and its youth (he has no beard for example) brings on a contrast with what was suggested before. Besides, from the first scene, we have the image of a challenged king. [...]

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