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Now for a Light-hearted ReviewHenry V by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thanks to Kenneth Branagh, this Henry history play was the cool Shakespeare movie when I was in high school. Eat your heart out Franco Zeffirelli. Mr. Branagh acted and directed his butt off. There were lots of arrows flying between England and France. The French were portrayed as snobs, a testament to the Bard’s high research standards. The original score was majestic. Did I mention the cool arrows?
Honestly, I’m still not sure why England and France were fighting—something about tennis balls being very tacky gifts. So I make it a rule never to invite a British person to play tennis if he is holding a longbow. Oh, yeah, and having now also seen a good stage production, I find myself not the least bit bothered that a whole section of the play is done in French. It involves Henry’s bride-to-be chatting it up with a girlfriend, I think. At any rate, the deep symbolism for me in that scene is that whenever I find myself surrounded by chatting women, I can’t follow what they’re saying. But if I pay attention to their mood, things generally turn out okay.
Anyhoooo, having read it and seen it on stage and screen, Henry V remains for me a cool, exciting Shakespeare play. I had to dock a star because I made the mistake of attending college and becoming a critical thinker. So now the war sections don’t have the same pizzazz that they did in high school. And I’ve also realized that the love story has no pizzazz. “Hi, lovely French lady. I’m Henry. I killed more of your relatives than your country killed of my relatives. I love your eyes. Let’s consummate.” Yup, pretty sure that’s the final act in a nutshell.
Bottom line: Whatever literary gripes may exist about this play, the St. Crispin’s Day speech is rightfully one of the greatest moments in all of dramatic literature. Don’t miss this Shakespearean history play.
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