The final instalment in this scene is Henry’s self-reflection: the filmic counterpart of the theatre soliloquy. Olivier creates his motion picture soliloquy in the form of a highly consuming and exceptionally static scene. The dialogue is engineered by a dubbed ‘voice-over’, which literally allows Olivier to speak his mind. Such a technique causes the audience to also communicate Henry’s thoughts. Olivier maintains a still head throughout the scene with only the slightest and subtle movement of the eyes and the face to convey emotion. The impact of this surrealism is very powerful and deep.
Olivier acts and speaks with flying colours and immense skill in this section. Branagh on the terms of originality produces a near fully authentic scene. Obvious contrasts here involve the lack of a voice-over; the use of music and the constant motion of Henry round the set. The section begins with Henry walking and removing his cloak, an easy method to literally emphasize the return of identity to the king. The exception of Branagh’s authenticity appears at the mention of “The wretched slave”. Olivier pans the camera right to reveal a young boy sleeping peacefully.
Branagh echoes this with a shot of numerous plain soldiers sleeping in front of him as he drifts around the set. It attains the symbolic meaning of how their lives and cares seem to be firmly held in the security of the king. With no dubbing effect, Branagh is successfully free to deliver all the emotions and expressions the self-reflection may require. In turn he may generate more audience interest in the scene than Olivier’s mainly inert one. A surprising patriotic element appears at Henry’s pause in front of a Royal emblem. A subtlety brought about to remember the effect of warring as a nation not just an army.
The last but not least important effect for Branagh in this scene is the dubbing of music gradually into his speech. Branagh incorporates the stirring Marshall music track (a sign of preparation for the cause of war) employed later in the battle scenes. Switching onto the consecutive scene we encounter the subtle changes and effects between night and day and more specifically the handling of light between them. Each film’s transition holds their own contrasting effects generating their own individual success. Olivier’s change from night into day is very distinctive and effective in its own self-contrast.
A very clear and static night scenery lit by the intentional flickering of the fire with its interesting facial reflection is sharply contrasted after a scene fade out to a rebirth of the “awakening” light of day. In itself it has much symbolism relating this to be patriotically read as: “The Emerging of an English Army who arise through the darkness of fear, attachment and tire to overcome the arrogance of the French and become the victors of the day! ” This interpretation in wartime converts as a realistically vague but morally supportive account for the real English troops. Branagh’s version creates an almost opposing image to Olivier.
A vastly mysterious and hushed night, flooded with mist and fog supplemented with the strange beams of bright moonlight in a surreal atmosphere. The aura-like light of the moon alters to the subdominant sun, which naturalistically causes the mists to rise. Branagh’s transition is aimed relatively at the depictions of a medieval warfare atmosphere. The transition from night into day climbs to the opening of dialogue in the following scene portraying the negative attitudes and vexations of the noble men; a minute reflection of the previous night’s ongoing. Westmoreland is specifically sighted for his wish for very more men.
Branagh duplicates Olivier’s scene with its parallel headshots at the small noble cluster. He alters the shot slightly to identify the more yearning expressions shown on their faces. The exposure of anxiety in the scene is supported by the non-visual variation of a delicate accompaniment of music, which tone aptly describes the picture of readying and preparation. In effect this complements the pre-scene shot of motion and armament by background foot soldiers. Music is more importantly and ingeniously used here to lead on to its more productive and emphatic mix in the main body of the speech.
Due to their original purposes and vocal capabilities of the actor/directors the 2 films do or do not make the use of music in this scene. This will be considered more constructively further on. Olivier’s soundless scene next follows the offstage voice of Henry’s enquiry: “What’s he that wishes so? ” – an effect that allows his pure breadth of voice to intrude the scene offset creating a powerful, upbeat mood. With a Pan-right Branagh in comparison speaks his lines on-stage as Branagh cannot deliver such intrusive sound as Olivier does.
Both film versions examine Henry dressed in plain tunic. This subtle costume technique in both films allows Henry to be more intimate and bonding with his men. His dress contrasts with the small coatery of nobles armed and geared – such difference is widened in both films with Henry’s calm dialogue and released tone opposing the hurried and preparing scenic atmosphere. Further on we observe Olivier’s effective technique, which allows the widening of Henry’s internal crowd. This section is directly and physically manufactured to show literally the inspiration and elevation in the scene.
A gradual zoom out carries it out, which is subtly shaded and unseen as Henry walks through his men. This procedure rapidly brings about the inspirational energy in anticipation for the main passage of the speech. A method to expand Branagh’s internal crowd is not present here. The only impression such a method would carry in portraying its purpose would be the encirclement of Henry’s men around the king showing an intimate and emotional attraction. It is important to note now, of the variety of camera techniques used in this extract to help evoke the underlying emphasis in the film.
Olivier holds the methodology to create a scene of heroic performance elevation and inspiration, whereas Branagh also uses an array of skills to also create inspiration but at a less elevated level, focusing more on the intimate relationship between himself and his “band of brothers”. Examples of such a theory appear closely after in the next shot (Olivier’s) of a rotary camera pan revealing the evolution of his men’s spirits as well as a gradual zoom out towards the perspective camera (an effect resembling the camera as the audience so in turn on the zoom in we will be drawn in and inspirited.)
Branagh opposes this effect allowing the camera to track Henry rather than pan in a deliberate fashion to gain intimacy. A speech pause in both versions shows the director’s incline to Shakespeare’s own design structure of a lull or pause in the passage – which when distinguished in the film is congruently shown as the ironical camera pause where no movement or technique is carried out. In emulation, Branagh makes minimal changes here possibly due to the incantation, which Shakespeare and Olivier had set and created in such a shot, which cannot be yet bettered.
Olivier carries the ideas of portrayal in the sense of courage and leadership with a raise (or literal elevation) onto a higher platform escorted by a strong tonal and volume increase in his voice. Branagh alternatively uses his raise onto a podium to coin a near opposite sense of brotherhood, intimacy and fellowship amongst his men. The aid of a plain soldier presents this. Meanwhile in the background the musical theme hits forte – contrasting the forte in Olivier’s voice. Branagh’s seemingly slavish imitation here is only marked for weak originality in a second podium leverage.
In both cases we must not forget the qualities of leadership is such a kingly role. A camera movement to prove this is used to look up at Henry. In Olivier’s it is used re-emphasize his view as a model “leader of men”. Branagh uses the same technique but only to recall Henry’s role as king. Moving towards climax in both productions Olivier greatly steps up the concentration in the scene by his order of no cutting. Although Branagh copies this approach it is used much briefly and only works toward a pre-climax.
Branagh generally uses much more cut shots between him and his men – mainly to define the original written list of “Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot… “. However it is also used to again generate the ideas of fellowship. This is aided by Branagh’s more buoyant vocals and marked facial expressions of smiles and coition. Such a method is wholly authentic to Branagh, as Olivier still in the climatic intensity of ‘no-cuts’ policy cannot use any headshots to mark Henry’s detailed expression. Instead he makes the initiative use of arm gestures to help communicate his thoughts.
More crucially in this version Olivier makes use of another zoom out to largely emphasize the grandeur and depth of his speech. Upon reaching climax both films are similar to one another in the predictable cheer of the soldiers on the suitably matched title of the speech: “Saint Crispin’s Day”. Under examination we find the scene’s visual techniques portray very much the ideas and feelings, which each director sets out to do, however the main point which differentiates the two is neither the methods of visual presentation nor dialogue – moreover it is the presentation or in fact, lack of presentation of a musical theme.
A strong musical theme in Branagh’s production naturally explains his lack of rapidity in gaining elevation and inspiration as fast as Olivier does. Branagh’s reliance of music appears under two important points. The young actor strains a lot to gain impact from his words. He has not the vocal skills to deliver such sentimental power, a direct contrast to Olivier’s truly epical solo voice able to exert his own grandeur and greatness. (This possibly links back to Olivier’s determination in gaining the title as a great actor.
The second point that explains Branagh’s use of music is through creativity. The effect in adding a special underlying sound mix to the speech is an emotionally attractive quality for modern film and audience. The background music clearly sets the tone and mood, which the words attempt to do. The surrealism of a sound mix compliments the general realistic tone of the speech. One problem Branagh had to be aware of was the possible reliance of music, which caused his speech (without the music) to be effectively useless in dynamic and emotional contrast.
Finally considering the 2 media texts on a more conclusive level, at a premature glance at the versions, it can be concluded that Branagh has simply replicated and enhanced Olivier’s work as his own. This crudely suggests Branagh to merely construct an emulation for his own suiting; as the film society aptly describes Branagh trying to “make a name for himself”. It is plainly obvious, on closer inspection of the films, more issues and cinematic techniques appear – each for its own individual purpose.
In several times of mention, the 2 films created have been constructed over the edifice of their original styles and purposes. Olivier wanted to depict war as an inspirational event to augment the morale of each soldier. The root of this idea bloomed very much in Olivier’s portrayal of Henry as an “epic leader” who spurs his men to go once “more onto the breach”. Branagh’s significant purpose in the assembly of this film and an important factor in his variations from Olivier is Brannagh’s belief of Olivier’s unsuitable presentation as Henry.
Branagh wanted to deliver a Henry of intimacy and fellowship in his deeper, long standing version of war. He wanted to show the image of a “king as but a man” amongst his “happy few”. Higher techniques involved in conveying a typical style in the films are largely shrouded in the capabilities of the main actors. If unwrapped we arrive at the comparison of vocal abilities of the actor/directors. We have found Olivier does without the music in these self-centralised scenes.
He releases a voice of skill and enigma to his listeners. Music in Branagh is creative and at many times very appealing. But to what extent is music appealing when the strained words underneath carry little value? Olivier, who was 37 in 1944, wrote that Henry V was the kind of role he couldn’t have played when he was younger: “When you are young, you are too bashful to play a hero; you debunk it. ” For Branagh, 29 was old enough. However how much was Branagh’s youth and vocal inexperience charged for, in the price of success?