Olivier And Branagh: Film Analysis

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Throughout the generations, various film productions have made for Shakespeare’s great works, and in fact, the adaptations of the Shakespeare films are popular among publicists in advertising for the reason of the broadest attractions and influences (Jackson, 2007: 7). Among his greatest cinematic adaptations, numerous productions were also made for Henry V; among them, Laurence Olivier (1944) and Kenneth Branagh (1989) have always made headlines when it comes to the discussion of its excellence and influence. It could have been attention-grabbing for the contemporary people to see the combination of the greatest artists creating an all-time spotlighted movie, when both movies were released to the public. However, what makes them more astonishing…show more content…
Olivier’s version of the film is more focused on the patriotic tone, considering the fact that it was made in the height of the World War II. Such tendency leads to the illustration of idealized king, as the Olivier film plays a role of a heroic spectacle and a celebration of monarchy, reminding of Britain 's position in Europe (Canby, 1989). On the contrary, Branagh puts emphasize on satirical tone where the king is depicted as a more humane character (Buchanan, 2005: 197). At the same time, Branagh successfully humanizes Henry V by reviving the scenes from the original text that Olivier omits in his version as a reaction to Olivier’s. According to Canby (1989), “Olivier 's Henry V is a splendid film that is also splendid propaganda.” This quote demonstrates one of the central influences on the film that significant changes have made to express the propaganda morals of the war period (Aitken, 1991: p.262). In fact, the stark difference between the two cinematic adaptations is the battle of the Argincourt. In Olivier’s film, all the focuses are on how powerful and inspiring Henry V can be described in the battlefield, whereas Branagh emphasizes the realistic view of bloody battle in a dark and gloomy background (Jackson, 2007:…show more content…
Branagh’s version of Henry V may have taken a major step toward through screening more skeptical response about war compared to Olivier’s version. However, some limitations can be identified through pluralistic viewpoints he takes regarding the issue of war and power mechanism; specifically, the interpretation of Henry V as a heroic leader, though he regards the innocent sacrifices of war as a necessary evil, indicates the irony of Branagh whose original intention is to create realism theater (Jackson, 2007: 241). Also, in Olivier’s intriguing screen spectacle, he shows a tendency to excessively rely on the comic characters in the play, which can be seen narrow-minded in terms of understanding the characters (Crowther, 1946). Thus, in bringing Shakespeare’s plays to modern film audiences, it can be evaluated that the two versions have achieved both artistic and commercial successes, greatly influencing the contemporary society and
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