Kenneth Branagh The Betrayal Of The Lords Scene Analysis

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The scene I have chosen to do a close reading of is the scene referred to as “Conspirators” in the DVD scene selection menu of Kenneth Branagh’s film Henry V. It includes both the prologue and scene two of the second act of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. In this scene, it is revealed that three of Henry’s lords have been conspiring against him. Branagh portrays Henry’s betrayal, and the punishment of these lords Scroop of Masham, Grey of Northumberland, and Richard of Cambridge. This scene is very deliberate in its treatment of the original Shakespeare text. It opens on the chorus, played by Derek Jacobi, standing on the side of a cliff and narrating what is happening with the three conspirators. It is interesting that Branagh…show more content…
When Henry orders the prisoner to be released, se see Scroop’s face as he warns against this course of action. It is clear to the audience - having seen him on the cliff - that these are empty words, and Henry’s seeming ignorance of this is disconcerting. However, it becomes clear that Henry is fully aware of the betrayal in the way in which Branagh says “I know your worthiness”. His voice is cold, and it is clearly a threat, rather than a compliment. Branagh also goes out of his way to emphasise that the betrayal of Scroop is more potent than that of the other two. It is Scroop whose face he caresses while speaking of “capital crimes”. The camera offers a close up of Henry’s face, and then of the three lords as they realise Henry’s knowledge of their betrayal, as Scroop appears helpless rather than nervous as the other two look. It is also Scroop who Henry throws onto a table, which is, as Aebischer states, “framed as an intimate two-shot, the assault resembles a violent re-enactment and/or parody of homosexual union.” (119). The closeness of these two characters is undeniable in the framing of this shot, and as the camera lingers on Scroop’s face, it is evident that tears are lingering in his eyes, which gradually builds until the arrest, when he begins sobbing visibly as Henry condemns the now-prisoners, rarely taking his eyes off of his former…show more content…
The fact that Branagh included this scene in his film is significant on its own, as it is one which Olivier purposefully omitted from his 1944 film. This is an important fact, as “Directors of Shakespeare films, like the makers of westerns and other genre pictures, tend to be intimately aware of each other’s work” (Crowl, 36), and therefore including this scene sets Branagh’s picture apart from its predecessor, and emphasises the “gritty, realistic” approach which distinguishes his style (Branagh, quoted in Hindle, 51). The inclusion and stylistic choices of Branagh in this scene are imperative for setting the tone of the remainder of the

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