My online book club’s selection was Shakespeare’s Henry V so I watched Kenneth Branagh’s version again. I remembered his “We few, we happy few” speech and again it was riveting. I enjoyed the faithful adaptation of the play and thought that in many ways film is a better medium than the stage where I’m sure you could not have dozens of archers shooting off arrows resulting in anything at all realistic.
This film succeeds in showing the brutality of battle and the cost. The script pares down the play, but still remains faithful to Shakespeare. I loved this query into What makes a king good? How do relationships change when one person gains power?
The only parts that felt out of place were the scenes with the French princess, Katherine. I felt Shakespeare was pandering to the women to bring in that segment of the audience. The lightheartedness just was so out of place with the rest of the play’s tone. Comic relief is a good tool, but you can show that with Falstaff and Henry’s old drinking buddies. That fits.
Also, having Katherine talk with her servant in French and then having the French nobles talk with each other in perfect English pulled me out of the play. It made me think, “Well, if the women are using French, wouldn’t the nobles?” Of course, they would but that would be problematic for Will.