The Moorish General Othello is manipulated into thinking that his new wife Desdemona has been carrying on an affair with his Lieutenant Michael Cassio when in reality, it is all part of the scheme of a bitter Ensign named Iago.
In the inspired Olivier concept, Shakespeare's play begins as a performance in the Globe Theatre, shifting in broad cinematic terms to an epic narrative of Henry V, who had developed from a dissolute youth to a purposeful monarch. Proving his ability as a soldier and skillful leader, he unites the dissident factions in the English army and goes on to crush the French, against enormous odds, at Agincourt. Arranging a treaty with the French court, he woos Princess Katharine to whom he is formally betrothed as part of the peace agreement.Written by
The oldest member of the cast, George Robey, was born in 1869, seventy-five years before the production. Robey also played what was probably intended to be the oldest character, Falstaff. See more »
The real Henry V had a large scar on the left side of his face, the result of being struck and nearly killed by an arrow at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. The scar is not shown in this film. See more »
O! for a Muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention; a kingdom for a stage, princes to act and monarchs to behold the swelling scene. Then should the war-like Harry, like himself, assume the port of Mars; and at his heels, leashed in like hounds, would famine, word, and fire crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all, the flat unraised spirits that hath dared on this unworthy scaffold to bring forth so great an object: can this cockpit hold the vasty ...
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The main title appears as a playbill floating over the Globe Theatre. Also, there are no opening credits except for the name of the production company and the film's title, which is commonplace today, but was very rare in 1944. See more »
In the American release of the film, all references to "bastards" in the dialogue were excised. See more »
Worthy film but slightly too much on the side of flag waving for my tastes
With tensions between England and the arrogant French pushed to breaking point, King Henry the Fifth sets out with his armies to conquer and quell the French in their native land. The film builds up with to the historic battle of Agincourt with the troops and the king camping together and making progress across the land.
Whenever Henry V (to use the shorten title) comes on TV I always tape it simply because I always assume that it is a masterpiece of English cinema such is it's reputation in many circles. However this reputation may not be that well deserved as I have decided from my viewing of it today. The plot is Shakespeare and I will not criticise it, but I know myself that it is not a story that I would pick if asked to chose from his canon of work I prefer the darker stuff or the out and out comedies. That aside the film tells a straightforward tale, here used to raise morale and fly the flag of Britain and England during WWII. As such it works but I needed it to be more than just a flag waving exercise, I wanted more detail and more thought. Such scenes exist within the play but Olivier does not use them as well as he uses the grandstanding speeches and battle scene his focus is not on thought but on scale.
As director he does quite well in early stages and in the actual battle itself. The device of opening ad closing in the playhouse works to good effect and is clever but far too many scenes have poor camera angles or are poorly framed. The battle scene is good but too much of the film is ordinary in terms of looks and style. As actor Olivier carries the King well but is too one dimensional for me and I didn't have to put any thought into him to watch the film. He holds back for much of the film but leaps up for more upbeat scenes or rousing speeches. The support cast all sound natural with the dialogue although some of the roles are a little bit hammy, they still hold the film together well.
Overall this is an enjoyable film that has good spectacle to it and key scenes are very good. However the lack of anything under the surface is a problem and it is one of the lesser Shakespearean adaptations I have seen. Still worth a look but if you're like me, you'll be left wondering `was that it?'
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