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Henry V Film Comparison

             After viewing two different versions of Shakespeare's Henry V, the audience may have two very different opinions of Henry as a King. On one hand he must be applauded for the incredible victory over France even against such great odds. On the other hand many may see him as unprepared for his duties, and as a heartless man who doesn't care about the lives of his people. This of course is not true, and his soldiers begin to see this after he delivers his famous "band of brothers- speech. Overall, the directors paint different pictures of Henry. Sir Olivier chose to give the film a more lighthearted approach and include some comedy in the film. Kenneth Branagh on the other hand chose to portray Henry's serious determined nature. The differences can be clearly seen in many scenes, but very early in both films, the tone is set. When the dauphin chooses to send the king a gift and a message, the king's reply shows the different interpretations of Henry's character from each director. This one scene sets up the play's understanding for the audience. .
             In Sir Lawrence Olivier's version of the play, the scene is played out like a play within a film. The colors are very bright and cheerful and the stage is clearly visible, surrounded by the cheering audience. Henry enters the stage while being announced by majestic trumpeters. He sits on his throne surrounded by his brothers and his counsel. He asks that the messengers be brought in and crosses his legs, puffs his chest and waits for their arrival. The messenger announces that the Dauphin wants Henry to "let the dukedoms that you claim hear no more of you."" Then a "tun of treasure- is presented to the king, but it is revealed to be tennis balls. Henry then gives his reply to the messenger. He smiles, then frowns, and begins to proclaim the message that England will not stand down and that they will "turn these balls to gun-stones- to use against France in the claiming of the dukedoms and the crown.

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