Thursday, February 5, 2015

Henry V by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare is meant to be watched, not read. So I would suggest watching the 1989 Kenneth Branagh adaption of this play before tackling the print version. I've seen the movie at least ten times and I still struggled through some parts of the written story. After reading it, I was much more appreciative of the editing Branagh did for the film. He left out some of the more confusing dialogues while preserving all the best scenes and lines. The movie is a work of art that my husband and I return to over and over again.

Back to the play itself. . . .Young King Henry (1886-1422) is convinced by his religious advisors that France rightly belongs to England. He takes his rag-tag bunch of soldiers and defeats the better-armed french army, wins the hand of the lovely princess Catherine and lives happily ever after. (Well, not exactly, but the play ends at their marriage.)

There are too many memorable quotes to mention them all. The most famous is the St. Crispin's Day speech. Another that I love involves Henry's proposal to Catherine. He considers himself very ugly so he tells her: The elder I wax, the better I shall appear. My comfort is, that old age, that ill layer up of beauty, can do no more spoil upon my face. Thou hast me, if thou hast me, at the worst; and thou shalt wear me, if thou wear me, better and better. (Act 5, scene II)

Several others: 

As many fresh streams meet in one salt sea; as many lines close in the dial's centre; so many a thousand actions, once afoot, end in one purpose. (Act 1, scene II)

Though patience be a tired mare, yet she will plod. (Act 2, scene I)

We are in God's hands, brother, not theirs. (Act 3, scene VI)

I and my bosom must debate awhile. (Act 4, scene I)

If you haven't guessed already, this is my favorite Shakespeare play. I'm glad I finally read it!


Lois Tinúviel said...

I love Henry V too. I watched to movie a couple years ago and then listened (I recommend audio books for Shakespeare) to the play last summer. The St. Crispin's day speech is great and I love the first chorus. The scene with Henry and Katherine is very funny to me too and well acted in the movie. :)

Dury said...

I agree Shakespeare is to be watched, not only read. Whenever I watch a Shakespeare play I add the English subtitles so I can read the lovely language and understand what they're saying! It's added to the fullness of my enjoyment 100 fold! Try it!

Unknown said...

I love Shakespeare! I'll have to look up that film. Thanks for the suggestion!

Unknown said...

I agree with Lois, audio is the way to go if there isn't movie available.

Annie Kate said...

Yes, I completely agree that you need to watch the play first. That's what we do in our homeschool and our tees will watch Shakespeare on their own now.

The version you mentioned is good but a bit violent. I mentioned two others in my post about Henry V, and think you might be especially interested in the Lawrence Olivier one which was meant to be a morale booster in WW2, as I recall.

Unknown said...

Shakespeare's is a refreshing approach to aging.

Joseph said...

Indeed...better watched than read, and for my taste...watched on stage. But this is an excellent film adaptation. Bravo to Mr. Branagh for bringing so much of W.S. to film, and doing it so well.