Saturday, May 18, 2013

170. HENRY V (1944)

Running Time: 137 minutes
Directed By: Laurence Olivier
Written By: Dallas Bower, Alan Dent, from play by William Shakespeare
Main Cast: Laurence Olivier, Max Adrian, Harcourt Williams, Felix Aylmer, Robert Helpmann


If you followed me on Twitter (@adduvall1984) then you'd know that I had a hard time getting through this one. I tweeted about it last night, when I was midway through it and today, citing that the review was coming and "wouldn't be pretty".

Look, I'm not even going to try and fool myself or anyone reading this. I have absolutely no freaking clue what "Henry V" was about, except to say that it was, indeed, about Henry V. So instead of trying to fake my way through a plot synopsis, let me just get right into the criticism and I'll just pull the trigger on this one quick and get it over with. First and foremost, why don't I know what this film is about, if I watched it last night? Well, for starters, the actors are talking with a Shakespearean tongue and I hate to admit it, but the language was Greek to me. I don't want to come off as uncultured, unintelligent or anything like that, but I barely understood a word of what was actually being said or what was going on. All I can tell you is that Henry V is played by Olivier, who is, no doubt, a great actor and for some reason or another, he leads the English into a war against the French - The Battle of Agincourt. Then there's my mind and how it so wanted to wander and how I just didn't care to stop it. I've never had a such a severely wandering mind as I did watching "Henry V"...I just, for the life of me, could not focus.

This film is the very definition of a boring film. Sure, the acting is top notch, I can't take that away from them and I won't even try to. They're British talent for God's sake, of course they can act and most certainly in a Shakespeare adaptation - it's what they were born to do. Acting aside and unless you're a Shakespeare fan, I'm begging you to tell me the appeal of this film. It's nothing without it's great acting (and it's not like great acting is ultra rare - they're a hundreds of movies, with hundreds of A+ performances) and it's appeal to Shakespeare fans. I just can't imagine someone who doesn't dig Shakespeare sitting down to this one and being anything but utterly and completely bored to tears. Let's put it this way: One of the most interesting scenes in the film and perhaps the one I understood the best, is the scene where Princess Katherine is being taught English by Alice (her assistant or whatever she's called). What's so bad about that? The entire scene is in FRENCH!! Think about it folks, the scene I understood the most was a scene that was in a language I do not speak, nor understand! And if ever there was a point in the film where they had my full attention, it was this point.

See, this is why I'm not a professional movie reviewer and why I probably never will be. Because this is the type of movie that they'd crucify me for not loving. Sorry kids, but I can promise you that I will never watch this film again and DAMN THE BOOK for making me watch it in the first place. This is literally ONE OF the worst movies THE BOOK has put me through and I'm so glad it's behind me. Again, I don't want to come off as ignorant or unintelligent, but this was just mind numbing.

RATING: 1/10  Probably the worst film of the season or at least tied for the worst of the season with some other piece of garbage. "Ivan the Terrible" is next and the return of Sergei M. Eisenstein to the blog...God be with me.


May 18, 2013  10:39pm


  1. Good morning Andrew
    So... just so i get this clear, I think you are hinting you didn't like this one much?
    You made a request for just what some people saw in this.. Well, that'd a tough one, but may i have a go at persuading you there is at least something in this?
    Henry V seems a simple play, with a straightforward plot.. King starts war, things go wrong, but he and his plucky band snatch victory from the jaws of obvious defeat.
    Well, maybe, But there is a lot more in there.
    REDEMPTION. Henry, as a lad, was a wild child.. drinking, whoring, robbing, hanging out with low life.. but now he has matured, and learnt how to behave as a grown up
    BETRAYAL. Not just the plot at Southampton, but how he betrays his old cronies and allows Bardolph to be hung for pillaging a church.
    POLITICS. The expedition to France is naked military adventurism, designed to hide problems at home.. but this is not a straightforward 'pro-war' film.. issues are raised.
    PRODUCTION. The film starts as just a theater production. Hemmed in by 'This wooden O' (the stage/theater). We are asked by the chorus for 'A muse of fire', and let our imaginations give us 'the vasty fields of France'.. and low and behold, the magic works, and we DO see, evolving, slowly, all the knights, horses etc..
    HUMOUR. Katherine trying to learn English from her nurse, Alice. You don't need to know fully what she says.. (she asks Alice "What is English for.... finger, nails, Elbow etc). The laugh is at her attempts to say 'finger' in English, and coming up with 'fangre', or Nyall, or Delbo. Also a smutty laugh when one English word sounds exactly like the French for.. well, Children may see this, so lets just say a very basic word for female anatomy.
    Please bear in mind, this 'war film' was made in the dark days of WWII when Britain was again facing what seemed like impossible odds. So it is fair to see THIS version as a piece of propaganda.
    For a totally differing take.. see Kenneth Brannagh's version. See the full horror of a military action, the results of pointless war..

    Sorry, I'm going on far too long, and I may well sound like I'm lecturing you. Not my intention, and if I come over as your 3rd year English teacher.. oooops, my fault. Sorry for that.
    I really like Shakespeare's histories. I have seen umpteen differing productions of this one alone, and read the 'Cole's notes'... and there are still vast chunks I don't get.

    I really hope I have not come over as patronizing or in anyway belittling.. I know how it is to be told 'this is great- you MUST like it'.

    1. Not coming off as a lecture at all Ray and I really appreciate the time and effort you must have put into that reply. It gives me a little insight into what people do see in this, but I'll stick to my guns and oppose "Henry V". Although, I've heard great things about Brannagh's verson, so maybe someday I'll have to see that. Thanks again!


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