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The other day, I experienced a sudden desire to watch Larry Olivier in the 1944 film version of Henry V, and Ken Branagh in the 1989 version of the same. So I ordered both through Amazon, with a bunch of other films from my wish list, and eagerly awaited their arrival. They were duly delivered, but I've had no luck viewing them so far -- as soon as the programme started, it cut out again, flashing either of two fairly incomprehensible messages on screen; one for Larry, telling me to update my drivers for my video card, and one for the others telling me the video card is knackered. Some deductive reasoning helped me to solve the problem pinpointed in the second message, but Larry's still not working. Woe.

One of these days, I really should get myself a proper dvd-player. After all, they're not even that expensive anymore.


Sep. 12th, 2007 11:34 pm (UTC)
I'd be interested to hear what you think (once you get them to work!) Personally I found Branagh's Henry V rivetting and Olivier's stilted and dated. They say that Branagh's was the ``Falklands'' perspective while Olivier's was the triumphalism from WW2.
Sep. 13th, 2007 07:45 am (UTC)
I remember the Olivier version from the days of my childhood when Sunday afternoon telly meant films about knights, ladies, and noble steeds. It stood out because a) it was in colour and b) there was this scene with lots of horses thundering over the plain, which I could watch over and over again.

Years later, I saw Branagh's version. Of course by then, I had a better understanding of what the play was about; but it wasn't that which riveted me so. It was the 'au naturel' and lively delivery of the Bard's lines, and the gory detail of a battlefield that impressed me. Since then, Branagh's been my favourite Shakespearean actor and director ( his Hamlet is nothing short of brilliant, I find), but I do still have fond memories of Olivier, too.

Triumphalism? I don't think so...the war hadn't been won yet when Larry's film was shot, and would last for another year after it was released. But it certainly was a propaganda piece, drawing parallels between the situations and intending to reinforce the hope of a good outcome. It's still a very good film for its time, though.
Sep. 13th, 2007 08:00 am (UTC)
Perhaps triumphalism was the wrong word — patriotic perhaps. And I wasn't being negative — anything that helped get the war won....

My favourite scene in Branagh's is that long long long sweeping take over the battlefield at the end when one of Henry's soldiers starts singing Nobis Domine and then a whole choir takes it up and you see Henry covered in mud and blood and the whole mess of the dead and dying. Brilliantly done. I don't think Branagh will ever match it again. Fancy reaching your peak in your 20s! Though I guess that's the fate of most top sportsmen too.... I haven't seen his Hamlet, but always rather liked Mel Gibson's version.
Sep. 13th, 2007 11:02 am (UTC)
Mel Gibson's Hamlet is done in a more traditional way compared to Branagh's, but it's definitely a very good version, too.

Have you seen Ken's Iago? He's utterly despiccable, yet somehow very real. Which is probably the quality I appreciate best in all his films; he's able to breathe so much life into his characters, even the dead heroic Shakespearean ones -- something which, for all his faultless performance and delivery of lines, Olivier never quite managed to pull off...but then, he lived and worked in another time, with other ideas, and it's probably not fair of me to compare them on that level.