Essay On Branagh's Adaptation Of Henry V

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The representation of Henry V has been purposefully re-shaped across its various adaptations to encompass contemporary contexts. In his original play, Shakespeare constructs Henry’s persona to reflect the Elizabethan context, vitalising Henry’s suitability to the throne through his Machiavellian traits and war-mongering attitude. However, as notably recognised in Branagh’s adaptation of 1989, subsequent to the Vietnam and Falkland’s Wars, this character of Henry has been altered, thus embodying a humanised leader loathing war and its ramifications. These contrary views of Henry are explicitly represented in both texts, as exemplified through language devices and filmic techniques respectively. Shakespeare examines the complicated nature of…show more content…
This revelation is portrayed in Henry’s persona at the conclusion of the Governor’s decision at Harfleur, where Henry is exposed as humanistic. Branagh adapts Henry’s response to the Governor’s surprising pronouncement of, “We yield our town and lives to thy soft mercy,” by closing up on the expression swept across Henry’s face. This expression of relief portrays this leader as reverent towards death, and his thankfulness for not having to fulfil his brutal ultimatum. By rendering Henry as war-weary, the notion of a leader being human and three-dimensional appeals to Branagh’s modern audience, and their understanding of war as futile and avoidable, as made known through the destruction of recent wars in 1975 and 1982. Contrarily to Shakespeare’s apathetic and Machiavellian leader, Branagh promotes the significance of leaders’ portraying a humanised nature and reverence for life. This significant adaptation by Branagh encompasses the context of his era constructively, by reinforcing the notion of war as destructive, and allowing leadership positions to convey this. Branagh’s adaption of Henry V exposes the context of his era as apprehensive to war, and thus embodies this in the leadership of Henry. It is significant
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