Bill Kerwin's Reviews > Henry V

Henry V by William Shakespeare
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May 12, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: 16th-17th-c-brit, tudor-drama
Read in October, 2010


Sure, it's a jingoistic pageant, but it's a great jingoistic pageant, and--besides--it is the most melancholy,ironic, self-aware--and laugh-filled--jingoistic pageant ever staged.

In Act V, Henry tells Katherine that together they will produce a son, and that this warlike paragon of chivalry will march to the Holy Land and "take the Turk by the beard." Yet we should know--and Shakespeare's audience certainly knew--that this boy would grow up to be Henry VI, the sickly, prayerful unstable man who lost England's hold on France forever and precipitated the Wars of the Roses.

This play celebrates the wheel of time and the golden warrior king who the wheel's many revolutions--in the course if the preceding ten acts of Henry IV--has produced, yet it never ceases to be conscious of the fact that success is always fleeting and that not even majesty, no matter how magnificent it may be in itself, can last forever.
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02/05/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Jones Bill, have you found a good retelling of this?


message 2: by Bill (last edited Feb 05, 2015 08:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill  Kerwin I know Charles and Mary Lamb wrote a good volume of Tales from Shakespeare in the 19th century. But I'm not sure Henry V is on their list.


message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael Jones It's not. Yes, I really love their retellings (of which they do 20) my children and I have listened to the audio versions of them over and over.

https://librivox.org/tales-from-shake...


Bill  Kerwin Michael wrote: "It's not. Yes, I really love their retellings (of which they do 20) my children and I have listened to the audio versions of them over and over."

When I taught remedial high school seniors, the Lambs' version of Macbeth was a great way to start things off.


message 5: by Nenče (last edited Feb 05, 2015 06:45PM) (new)

Nenče Bill wrote: "Michael wrote: "It's not. Yes, I really love their retellings (of which they do 20) my children and I have listened to the audio versions of them over and over."

When I taught remedial high schoo..."


If I may intrude, does anybody know if the movie adaptions are good?


Bill  Kerwin Both the Laurence Olivier and the Kenneth Branagh versions are excellent in very different ways.


message 7: by Nenče (new)

Nenče Bill wrote: "Both the Laurence Olivier and the Kenneth Branagh versions are excellent in very different ways."

Thanks Bill!


message 8: by Emma (new)

Emma Glaisher It is also included in the BBC's excellent Hollow Crown set, with Tom Hiddleston as Henry. Also featuring the most amazing Richard II with Ben Wishaw. Highly recommended.


message 9: by Bill (last edited Feb 07, 2015 06:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill  Kerwin Emma wrote: "It is also included in the BBC's excellent Hollow Crown set, with Tom Hiddleston as Henry. Also featuring the most amazing Richard II with Ben Wishaw. Highly recommended."

I've only seen the Richard II, but you're right: Wishaw and the entire conception are superb.


Leslie You will always enjoy Branagh and be dazzled by Olivier. One of my favorites of Shakespeare's ruminations on leadership and the eternal greatness of England.


message 11: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews You had me at "Sure, it's a jingoistic pageant, but it's a great jingoistic pageant,"

I love this play and the Band of Brothers speech is one of Shakespeare's best.


message 12: by Sue (new)

Sue Great review. Must read and watch.


message 13: by Sue (new)

Sue I did see the Branagh production when it was first in the theater. During the scene of an early battle, suddenly horses started moving backwards, arrows coming out of bodies, dialog could not be followed. Everyone in the audience just sat there. ... and it was then even upside down. Finally the projector stopped. And we knew it was mis-spliced. In comparing notes, turns out most of us initially thought that Branagh had incorporated some unusual artsy effects before we realized there was a problem. :-) My Shakespeare film story!


message 14: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan Branagh cuts the considerable ethnic comedy--this, the only play where Will (as he calls himself in the sonnets, punning) uses dialect comedy, Welsh, Scots, Irish, Englsih and of course, French. In fact, I have argued the play IS a comedy, ends in marriage, etc. (in Teague, ed, Acting Funny in Shakesp) One of my best comm coll students, at 87, a Harvard grad after WWII, had captained an English Corvette, was very interesting on H5's threat of war crimes (yr naked infants spitted on pikes…). My Captain's name, Izzy Horvitz.


message 15: by Cynthia Porter (new)

Cynthia Porter i am going to Abington waves basketball i will be back in two hours


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