Saturday, November 21, 2009

Prince Hal

I watched one of my very favorite movies tonight, Henry V, directed by and starring the unbelievably talented Kenneth Branagh.  Every time I watch this, I remember my Shakespeare class in college, and my professor's passion for Henry V.  I have been hungering for Shakespeare lately, so this was a wonderful way to whet my appetite and remind me of the finer things that have lasted for many centuries (e.g., Shakespeare's works).

Henry V is the last in a series of historical plays, starting with Richard II, and then Henry IV parts 1 and 2.  We know Henry is Prince Hal in the earlier plays, a prince who's more into partying with his ne'er do well buddy Falstaff, than in princely matters.  But in Henry V, Hal must become a king, conquering France at the Battle of Agincourt, and then wooing Catherine of Valois (brilliantly acted by Emma Thompson) to complete the conquest, as well as his transformation from playboy to man and king.

I've included a clip of the wooing above.  It is truly enjoyable - after watching Henry making difficult, even impossible, decisions as King of England leading battle - to watch this slightly awkward, while tender, "wooing."

I could go on all night, but will avoid further literature lessons, except to say that if you've never watched Henry V, please do so!  Even if you're not that interested in the story, you will be mesmerized by the acting, the sets, and the incredible costumes.

If you really want to go all out, watch My Own Private Idaho, Gus Van Sant's modern take on Henry V.  Forewarning:  it's a bit challenging to watch, with teenage runaways and what it takes for them to survive on the street.

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