Watch Both Of These…

A trackback from Redstate reminds me that today is St. Crispin’s Day – famed for the battle of Agincourt and Shakespeare’s great speech for King Harry.

I blogged it some time ago, and rewarded Branagh:

I don’t care that Kenneth Branagh is reduced to being Harry Potter’s [or Will Smith’s – ed.] foil; I hope he’s happy and healthy and being banged into insensibility by starlets every day for his incredible version of Prince Hal, in Henry V.

Every so often, an actor will nail a role so well that every time you pick up the book and read it, you hear the actor’s voice, and when I quoted Shakespeare below, I heard Branagh’s voice.

Here’s the speech:

But here’s another scene from the movie that is critical to keep in mind as we try and judge where we stand in Iraq, or in any great matter (quality not as good):

13 thoughts on “Watch Both Of These…”

  1. This was the best film version of Henry V, topping Olivier.

    Too bad the boy king didn’t live up to his promise. His Hamlet was a real mess, and he went through it shouting every line at the top of his lungs. He had to, to be heard over the stupid orchestra that wouldn’t shut up.

    It amazes me that so many talented people with so much money can pour so much effort into making a spectacular version of a story they do not understand.

    That goes for Ethan Hawke’s Hamlet, too. And for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.

  2. _This was the best film version of Henry V, topping Olivier._

    Agreed – I had this saved as an MPG for years, ripped from VHS.

  3. Just rented it – would have bought it if they had one in stock. Littlest Guy used to watch it and walk around with a towel on his shoulders, going ‘No King of England if not King of France!’ and he and I have the night to ourselves tonight…

    A.L.

  4. Here is something to listen to. A beautiful haunting song (YMMV) in support of our troops. Similar theme to St. Crispin’s day speech. A beautiful way to support the troops from a veteran of wars long ago and far away.

    The author of I Wanna Go Home, Karridine, has authorized me to give away 1,000 free copies of the song to our men and women in the military for personal use only. However, recipients of a free copy can let anybody listen to it if they want. Members of the military can put it on their i-pod, use it on their computer, or make one CD.

    You can find out how to get a free copy at 1,000 Free Copies.

    If you want a copy for review e-mail me. My e-mail address is on the sidebar.

  5. Just rented it …

    Pay special attention to Henry’s conversation with the soldiers when he’s moving about the camp in disguise on the night before Agincourt. It has more immediate relevance than all the Hollywood movies you’ll ever see about Iraq.

  6. Glen, I like Branaugh’s Hamlet more than you did, although some of the celebrity cameos like Lemmon’s weaken it seriously. But it is definitely true that his Henry V is a masterpiece.

  7. Personally, I think the Olivier version was better, but that’s just me.

    A similarly good fictional speech to troops is Aragorn’s speech to the troops before the Battle of the Morannon (I think that’s what it’s called – the last battle in the Lord of the Rings). Incidentally, that speech has nothing to do with Tolkien, if I remember correctly. Does anyone know who actually did write it?

    One problem (for the actor) is that Viggo Mortensen is unlikely to do anything as good as his Aragorn again.

  8. The speech is as good a piece of political literature as any and I cannot think of any piece of literature I like more. It stands as a bookend with Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural. One must be careful though when using it to make judgments. By its very nature poetry is explosive and manipulative. That is what I like about it.

    I would suggest the opposite of taking the fictional retelling of the events at Agincourt by the greatest of poets to guide our judgments on the course of real war.

    Watching it again, it reminded me of another line of poetry that has always, in my mind at least, sat as a counterbalance to this speech.

    “Violence is the sire of all the world’s values.” Robinson Jeffers

  9. One of the lines of Rowan Atkinson (playing the leader of a squad of hapless police constables)

    “Of course the French hate us, they haven’t gotten over Agincourt.”

  10. Robin:

    Glen, I like Branaugh’s Hamlet more than you did …

    In my opinion, Olivier was the all-time definitive Richard III. Branaugh has supplied the definitive Henry V. I guess Anthony Hopkins might as well be the definitive Titus Andronicus, because we don’t need another one.

    We’re still waiting for the definitive Hamlet. Olivier played him as a ballet dancer, and Branaugh played him as Chris Matthews. (Unfortunately, I think the definitive film Hamlet would have been John Gielgud, and it’s too late for that.)

    Still, every Hamlet film has had something to like in it. In Branaugh’s Hamlet, I liked Charlton Heston as the Player King, and I liked Robin Williams as the courtier.

    Apart from that, it was like an exercise in miscasting. Who would put John Gielgud in a movie as an extra with no lines? Who would take a vibrant actor like Brian Blessed and cast him as a lifeless ghost? Who would take a great dramatic actor like Jack Lemmon and cast him in a part that totally doesn’t fit him? And since when is Billy Crystal funny, in any time period?

    And never mind Claudius – why didn’t somebody complain about Denmark being taken over by out-of-control set designers and special effects experts, and couldn’t somebody turn down the damn music for just a second?

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