|HENRY V/A, B
UK/1944/FULLSCREEM 1.33/MONO/139 MINUTES/DIRECTED BY LAURENCE OLIVIER/STARRING LAURENCE OLIVIER, LESLIE BANKS/VOYAGER/44 CHAPS/THEATRICAL TRAILER/2 DISCS/CLV/$69.95
What an exuberant production.! Olivier invests this Shakespearean brew with marvelous measures of brio enhanced a vitality of color, costume, music that lifts the film from the boundaries of stage origin, without abandoning its traditional origins. Olivier opens his Henry V as a presentation being made at Shakespeares Globe Theater, adding a level of charm and providing a structure on which to mold the text to best cinematic effect and length.
The language his handled in dulcet tones by the highly skilled British actors. Olivier is a great Henry. Leslie Banks plays the narrator with fine flare. The poetry is delivered not as recited verse but as spoken language. The rhythms supply their own natural beauty. Though the words are Shakespeares, he must share the glory for this Henry V with the fantastic production elements of Oliviers film treatment. William Waltons score is regal to be sure. The sets are very imaginative combining realistic elements with evidentially artificial backdrops. The costumes are astoundingly rich. Henry V is grand Shakespearean pageant led by Laurence Olivier at the height of his acting and in his directing debut.
The disc shows off the splendid colors of Henry V to fine effect. It is at all times vibrant. There is some minor pulsing of color from shot to shot, but given the age of the original elements this is better than most. The images are very sharp and every detail of this glorious production is delivered for maximum effect. The wonderful score of Walton is transferred in all the glory of the brass and woodwinds. A wonderful initiation to Shakespeare!