Henry V

Good king Henry V sporting a
popular haircut of the day.

I haven’t been blogging as much about movies lately, and that’s for a number of reasons, mostly because it’s been Summer and we’ve been outside more than in, and also because I’ve been picking up books more than films. Now the leaves are beginning to turn and we are watching a few more films. Recently Lily and I watched Kenneth Branagh’s brilliant Henry V (1989). This was not Lily’s first Shakespeare, but it’s one of her first, and maybe her first not directed for kids. A few times we paused and I explained what was going on, or who was who, but for the most the part the film is easy to follow. More than this, it is a powerful play with great scenes, and great dialogue and speeches. But what struck me the most this time was how it portrayed war.

War is terrible. The great battle in Henry V comes right after one of the English language’s greatest rallying speeches – the St. Crispin’s Day speech. From the speech we get the title for Band of Brothers. In that speech young king Henry rallies his troops with promises of glory and honor, of future stories and brotherhood. That speech spins a aura of wonder and excitement around the coming battle. But then we get into the battle and it is awful. I am thankful Branagh took that opportunity to de-glorify war somewhat.

I was a little concerned showing Lily this film because of both the war images and the difficulty of the language, but I’m glad I did. We talked about the gruesomeness of the fighting and what that means. She and I have also talked numerous times about how films are made and that movie blood is really red paint, etc., so she gets it, but still images do move the soul.

Here are just a few of the many images of the horror, sadness, ugliness, and suffering of war from Henry V:

Of course the English win that war and they do go on to bask in a kind of earthly glory. Such are the lives of victors. But I hope I never forget the great gulf there is between speeches made about war and war itself – even if the speeches be written by the Bard himself and the battles won. I always want to remember that political speeches about the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families are easy to give.

2 thoughts on “Henry V

  1. >Nice post, Tuck. I’ve really enjoyed reading and absorbing your reflections on film watching with Lily. Thinking a few years down the road, I’d like to do something very similar with Olivia.

  2. >Brian, I think you and Olivia will have a great time – I’m sure you already are. Lily seems to love it when we watch movies together, especially when they are a little over her head and I can explain what is going on. It reminds me how much I have used movies to learn about the world, and how much I love to learn. I see that in her.

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