Henry V: Movie To Play Comparison

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade August 2001

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Henry V: Movie to Play Comparison Right in the midst of World War Two Lawrence Olivier decided to bring his adaptation of William Shakespeare's Henry V to the movie screen, the timing is no coincidence. Olivier faced great pressures at making a nationalist film that was uncomplicated by Shakespeare's irony. Much to the credit of Olivier his adaptation of Henry V was much more then simply a showpiece of propaganda, although not very accurate to the original text, it is very entertaining. Henry V was Olivier's very first attempt at directing a film and in 1946, it won him an academy award.

It is important to note that the original version of this film had a dedication to all World War Two commandoes before the film began. This makes it very obvious, before even a word is spoken from the film that Olivier is very pro-war.

Olivier chooses to portray his film in an almost "storybook" like setting.

Olivier uses large pieces of cut-up cardboard and painted backdrops for the background of his play. In fact, the entire castle of Harfleur was nothing more then a large piece of painted cardboard. It is very important to note because Olivier does this in order to emphasize the performance and characters themselves rather then any extravagant kingdom or castle.

The almost fairy-tale like setting Olivier chooses to set his adaptation of Henry V in gives the views a very sanitized and glorious view of war, rather then making any attempt at showing and gore or bloodshed (such as Kenneth Branagh's version). This is again due to the time this adaptation hit the screen, a time when people did not care to see the gore of war, in fact, they were very content with the glorious fairy-tale version of what war was like.