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The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (Olivier, 1944) #TSPDT 395

Laurence Olivier's  rendering of Shakespeare's Henry V is a fascinating experience of "just acting"

As I am still plodding through the works of the master and having still a couple of the historical plays before me (the "Richards" and one "Henry") I have found out that only multiple viewings/listenings and readings will give some satisfaction and reward. Not being fully at ease with the intricate history of the Lancaster and Plantagenet families it took me forever to figure out which is which in the back and forth of those laborious intrigues.

Luckily, Henry V is a bit simpler. Family feuds are at a minimum during this period and good ol' Hal sweeps over to France, kills pretty much everything that moves, marries the kings daughter and even lets his sinister buddy Falstaff die of more or less natural causes. Olivier's version of the imperial entrepreneur is not as ambivalent as in the play (just by leaving out some crucial scenes) and mostly the good fellow that every soldier in the bloody trenches of 44 must have wished be his commander.

The colors are glorious, the opening marvelous and some of the scenes hilarious (they left in the sexual content in the fake french scene - not many people understand it today). Not everything holds up perfectly, for example the French Court feels too stagey. But the battle scenes are pretty cool and left me ruminating: how did they manage to pay for all that?

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