Starts out promising enough by showing us what a performance at the Old Globe theatre may have looked and sounded in 1600 complete with raucous crowds, an unexpected rainstorm drenching the stage, and actors constantly breaking the fourth wall in order to mug at the audience. But then Olivier decides to up the ante by introducing gaudy technicolour sets that supposedly mimic medieval paintings but instead resemble a child's pop-up storybook. That, plus a bit of overacting and some wartime censorship aimed at turning the Bard's work into Allied propaganda turns the whole production into a big loud mess. Still ahead of its time despite the missteps and worth a look.
This is a 1944 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same name.
It stars Laurence Olivier, who also directed.
The play was adapted for the screen by Olivier, Dallas Bower, and Alan Dent.
The film begins as a recreation of a stage production of the play in the Globe Theatre, then gradually turns into a stylized cinematic rendition of the play, with sets reminiscent of a medieval Book of Hours.
It follows the overall pattern of Shakespeare's play, depicting Henry's campaign in France, through the siege of Harfleur.
The film then shows the Battle of Agincourt in a real setting, after which the film quickly begins to revert to backdrops that are once again more and more like medieval illuminated manuscripts.
We then see the negotiations for Treaty of Troyes and Henry's courtship of Princess Katherine followed by their marriage.
At the end of the scene, the setting reverts to the Globe Playhouse and the audience applauding.
The film was made near the end of World War II and was intended as a morale booster for Britain.
Consequently, the film was partly funded by the British government.
Winston Churchill instructed Olivier to fashion the film as morale-boosting propaganda for British troops fighting World War II.
The making and release of the film coincided with the Allied invasion of Normandy.
Although intended as a morale booster, the film seems to me a somewhat lackluster piece.
March 21, 2012
I really enjoyed this movie. It is a gem: sets, costumes, acting, adaptation of the Shakespearean play.
Very interesting to contrast with Branagh's version. Much more theatrical. Viewers will need to be patient with an older style and interpretation of Shakespeare
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