Thursday, 16 August 2012

Cropredy Cut-Down

This time last week I was getting ready to head over to the Cropredy Festival. I'd never been to a folk festival before, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. In the event, however, what surprised me most was less how much I enjoyed it and more the eclectic mix of music I discovered there - it was only about half actual folk stuff, if that. I won't go over everything and everyone I saw, but here's a quick summary of the highlights.

Day One we missed most of the first act (Fairport Acoustic), but things really picked up as the afternoon wore on into evening with Bellowhead followed by Squeeze. Interestingly, Bellowhead were actually one of the few bands that played proper folk tunes, but their style of doing so was so exciting and innovative, that they were one of my favourite acts. Almost more an orchestra than a band, there are currently eleven members of the group, who play everything from fiddles to saxophones, bagpipes to mandolins, cellos to frying pans. The result is this fantastic, loud, feel-good sound.
Even hearing recordings, it's almost impossible not to want to sing and dance along. Seen on stage, the whole thing's even more exciting, with every performer absolutely bursting with energy and enthusiasm, and just generally seeming to enjoy themselves at least as much as the audience always do. Bellowhead have quite deservedly become five times winners of Best Live Act at the Radio 2 Folk Awards. For me, they were definitely the best discovery of the weekend.

Bellowhead were swiftly followed by the act I'd most been looking forward to, Squeeze, who didn't disappoint. Largely dispensing with the banter more typical of this kind of festival, Glenn Tilbrook, Chris Difford et al belted out one hit after another. I was a little disappointed that they didn't play what would probably have been the most appropriate song, given the gorgeous weather we had the whole time, but I'm going to put it here anyway for the hell of it.
That said, it was hard to be bothered about anything at all in the middle of such a fantastic set. Tilbrook's brilliant voice hasn't faltered a whit in 30 odd years. What's more, he did a great job up on stage in spite of some kind of foot injury - Chris Difford mentioned it on stage, but I also spotted him walking around on crutches at the festival the next day.
Also, I just had to post this because I loved his guitar so much - it's like Auntie Mabel's plane from Come Outside:
Oh, and I got myself one of these, too:

On the Friday, these guys were my favourite of the new bands:

Very, very pretty and melodic. I enjoyed Tarras so much that I went to see them do an extra couple of songs at a tent in the corner of the field to go out on BBC Radio Oxford. If you were listening to that, and you heard some jingly bells in amongst the clapping, that will have been my bracelet.

Naturally though, the best part of that day was watching Richard Thompson be amazing on his own. What that man can do with a guitar, and make it look so effortless.......I seriously think it might be magic. I'd never seen anything quite like it.
After he'd been on for a while, things changed a bit when he pulled out the electric guitar and was joined by some familiar Fairport faces.

And despite some obvious irony, Richard and his daughter Kami singing A Heart Needs a Home was lovely. I can't find a video of the performance, but here's the song (as performed by Kami's mother in 1975) anyway.

The evening ended with Joan Armatrading, a nice mellow way to finish off before heading home to bed.

I can't actually find footage or even a picture of it anywhere, but she did a really interesting thing sometimes with her guitar, where she had it sort of fixed to a stand so she could play it for a bit and then leave it and walk around and then go back to it again.

Another good part of Day Two was buffalo burgers from the Native American food stand. For some reason it wasn't one of the more popular ones. Shame for them, but fortunately for me it meant that we got delicious food without having to queue like everyone else. 

Day Three I'm sorry to say I was probably paying slightly less attention to bands on earlier, particularly Brother and Bones, although what I did hear as I was nosing around the stalls and things sounded pretty good. I also remember thinking these guys sounded lovely...

I'm not really all about the Morris dancing, but I expect other people had fun with Morris On. Big Country apparently had some hits in the 80s, but none of our party had ever heard of them before, and I wasn't particularly impressed. The lead guy looked a bit like he'd really really like to be Paul Weller, but didn't really sound anything like him. Dennis Locorriere I thought talked a bit too much, and wasn't really as funny as he seemed to think he was. Again, I wasn't too bothered either way by any of his stuff. By far the best part of this day was Fairport Covention at the end. Being probably more of a granny than the many many people there who were old enough to be my grandparents, I got too tired to stay till the very end, which unfortunately meant that I missed this:

That said, I saw plenty of wonderful stuff before I went, so I can't complain at all. Most of the original line up of Fairport came out to join the current members, along with some of the younger musicians that played and sang earlier in the festival. 

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Women in Black

A few posts back I wrote about a film screening I went to in Leicester as part of a Hammer revival festival. During the pre-show talk, Mark Gatiss mentioned Hammer's "come-back" feature, The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe. His verdict was generally a positive one, though he added that he still preferred the 1989 version adapted by Nigel Kneale. At the time, I hadn't seen this older film, but I have recently been working my way through all of Kneale's Quatermass series (I wrote an essay mainly on Hammer's film versions of these for my degree, and it was one of the most enjoyable pieces of work I've ever done), and have been looking forward to discovering some of his other work. I expected good things from his Woman in Black, and I wasn't disappointed.

Kneale's version, directed by Herbert Wise, is certainly creepier than the more recent film, which I went to see for my birthday this year. The ghost is deliberately rendered more ambiguous: no one else gets quite so hysterical about it as Arthur Kidd (or Kipps in the novel and the later film), in fact, we're not sure that anyone else has actually seen it, other than the late Mrs Drablow. Whereas in the more recent film, Arthur's presence in Crythin Gifford (the seaside town near to Mrs Drablow's property, Eel Marsh House) seems to increase its child mortality rate, in the earlier version, Arthur successfully saves a young girl's life, and no one in the town dies during the course of the film.

Notably different are the parallel characters of Mr and Mrs Toovey in the 1989 film, and Mr and Mrs Daily in the 2012 film. Although both couples have lost their sons, Elisabeth Daily has a much stronger presence than Mrs Toovey, who has little to do or say. Elisabeth believes steadfastly in the ghost, and has been driven half-mad by the death of her child which she is sure was caused by the ghost, whilst her husband is fervently opposed to such nonsense - despite more evidence for its existence in the later film, Sam Daily will not believe in the ghost, to the point that he comes across as a man in denial, and we are more willing to believe his wife. Sam Toovey, on the other hand, seems to have no more strong opinions either way than his retiring spouse, leaving us with only Arthur's experiences to judge from.

Arthur himself exhibits signs of madness in Kneale's version. The only time he sees the ghost close up, he's in a state of feverish delirium. Later on, rather than being killed by a train as he prepares to go home, he lives to return to London, only to proceed to burn down his office, attack his boss and finally to accidentally drown himself and his family when "haunted" by the ghost on a lake. This family, too, including Arthur's wife and baby, is notably larger: in Hammer's version, Arthur's wife is already dead, and four-year-old Joseph is his only child. This difference in the later film facilitates a disappointingly trite ending, whereby Arthur and Joseph both "pass over" and are reunited with Joseph's mother, rather than simply dying.

Taken together, this differences render the earlier film much more unsettling. While the pace may be slightly slower if you're only used to more modern movies, I don't think this is any bad thing. It builds suspense and fear piece-by-piece, rather than immediately telling its audience what they're meant to be thinking. Partly this is a result of its being a TV film, broadcast over the Christmas period, rather than a big cinema release in February intended to re-launch a studio - this I suppose meant that it didn't have to fight quite so hard for its audience. Nevertheless, I think its fair to say that this style of gradual build-up is dying out, even on television - try, for example, comparing recent episodes of Doctor Who to those from the 60s, 70s and even 80s.

Interestingly, I was told that Nigel Kneale's film played a part in the development of a new theory of ghosts. Apparently his emphasis on the wax cylinder recordings made by Mrs Drablow helped generate ideas about ghosts themselves as recordings of sorts - visual and/or audio "memories" that are somehow encoded or embedded in physical objects, rather than conscious, independent spirits. Without wanting to be too presumptuous, however (to speak for the dead, as it were), I bet that that's an irony that Nigel Kneale - with all his fierce intellect and scepticism - would have appreciated.

In its defence, though, Hammer's Woman in Black is still a fabulous film. It looks beautiful, and is actually remarkably tense and eerie, given the studio's track record for producing a lot of pretty cheesy, melodramatic horror. There are a few traditionally hammed Hammerish aspects: when the ghost rushes at Arthur it's a bit over the top, and the lack of ambiguity is more traditional horror film fare. Still, on the whole, this film is much more akin in style to modern ghost films, and to Hammer's better moments (including the Quatermass films and The Curse of Frankenstein). I'm only curious now to see which film, if either, stays more true to the book.

There were, of course, some similarities between the two films, and one of the most noticeable was that between the performances of both Daniel Radcliffe - who, incidentally, does a surprisingly good job, even of convincing us that he's old enough to be a widower with a four-year-old child - and of his predecessor in the role, Adrian Rawlins. Despite looking very different, the two actors seem very close in manner, tone and expression - both seem to work very well as the "everyman" figure of Arthur Kidd/Kipps. The connection goes deeper than this, however: looking up Adrian Rawlins online, I discovered that he also played James Potter (i.e. Daniel Radcliffe's dad) in the Harry Potter films - now there's a good bit of trivia if ever I saw one.

Jane Eyre

The other day I watched a film I'm sorry to have missed during it's cinema run. Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre is a stunning piece of work, amongst the best literary film adaptations I've seen, and certainly the best screen adaptation of a Bronte novel.

Fukunaga makes some interesting decisions with the time-frame of the film, choosing to present the first half of the film chronologically as a series of flashbacks experienced by Jane after she finds herself at the home of St. John Rivers and his sisters Diana and Mary. Rather than seriously altering the mood of the story, however, this actually helps to bring out the spirit of the novel, which Bronte wrote in the style of an autobiography for her heroine. By beginning the film in the middle of the novel, as it were, Fukunaga manages to capture the air of reminiscence we find in the novel without giving away the ending of the story too early, or giving any sense that the conclusion of the tale is fixed, so that no suspense is lost from the turbulent romance plot.

Watching the DVD special features, I noticed some comments about the film focusing particularly on the gothic elements of Bronte's novel. While I did notice a strong gothic strain, however, I didn't feel that it was over-emphasised at the expense of some of the other, more realistic aspects, as sometimes happens with semi-gothic novels like this. It would be easy enough to ham up the horror to shocking Hammer levels, but instead, this film was wonderfully nuanced, showing up the grim and grimy side of life as a poor woman in the early 19th century north. Alongside all the bizarre and ghostly happenings at Thornfield Hall are placed the very real and urgent dangers of sickness, malnutrition, child abuse and neglect, and even (in the remarkably astute warnings of Mrs Fairfax, Rochester's housekeeper) the potential for rich men to manipulate and ruin their female servants. We feel deeply the desperation of the eternally dependent Jane, trapped and isolated by her sex, her poverty and the death of her parents in a dull and oppressive world, too small for her great mind.

The whole film was beautifully shot and intricately detailed. There was a brilliantly shabby and desolate quality to everything: the sets, the scenery, the costumes. Even within the grandeur of the Thornfield estate, things often felt cold, dark, empty and unwelcoming. Viewers are here plunged into the dingy reality of the period, instead of an idealised dream of the past where England is always sunny and stately homes are always bright, buzzing and full of people, as is so often the case with period dramas.

As the title character, Mia Wasikowska draws and compels our attention throughout. I enjoyed her performance in Alice in Wonderland, but this film much more fully showcases her talent and range, which are enough to rank her with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence as one of our brightest new female stars. I didn't actually realise until I saw this film that she's Australian - she's certainly developed a commendable knack for accents very early on. I'm thoroughly excited to see what she does next. Michael Fassbender was the perfect choice for Rochester - suitably commanding and frightening and yet strangely and disarmingly charming. Judi Dench was of course as expert and inspiring as ever - the way she can easily adopt any register from queens to servants never ceases to amaze. The moment where she hugs and chastises the despairing Jane for running away when they are reunited at the burnt out remains of Thornfield Hall was incredibly moving. Despite Rochester's dismissive and obnoxious attitude towards her, Dench's performance shows us a Mrs Fairfax who is thoughtful and intelligent as well as kind, one who, we get the impression, has been a similar victim of circumstances to Jane. Unlike Jane, of course, she is too old now to expect any great change in her fortunes. I was also very impressed by the cast of child actors: Amelia Clarkson and Freya Parks dealt maturely and convincingly with some really dark subject matter as young Jane and her dying best friend Helen, and Romy Settbon Moore captured the easy good nature of Jane's pupil, Adele. It was also a pleasure to spot Craig Roberts again, who did a great job in Submarine and and Becoming Human, however briefly he appeared in this film.

As a measure of the emotional impact of this film, I haven't cried so much at any production of anything since I saw Helen Edmundson's The Heresy of Love in Stratford. If you haven't seen either of these things, you're seriously missing out.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Nothing and Everything All at Once

When I first spotted the adverts for the RSC's current production of Much Ado About Nothing featuring Meera Syal, it was one of those rare moments when you feel as if you couldn't think of anyone more perfect for a role. As far as live performance is concerned, I think the only comparable occasion for me was seeing David Tennant as Berowne in Love's Labour's Lost. In both cases, the combination of actor and part was every bit as hilarious as you could hope. As Beatrice, Syal's wit sparkled. Paul Bhattacharjee matched her comic timing and cleverness as Benedick, and the interplay and chemistry between them was endlessly entertaining.

Elsewhere, some of the more commonly sidelined characters were really given a chance to shine. Hero, perhaps one of the least desirable roles in Shakespeare, was given much more of a personality - she seemed a bit of a party girl. Although she was ultimately willing to submit to a man about whom she knew very little, she did spend the final few days before her marriage having fun on her own terms, partying hard with her cousin Beatrice, her maid Margaret (here transformed into an uber-chav with a bright pink frilly Jordan-esque dress for the wedding) and even the Prince. Amara Khan did a great job of transforming this passive character into a much more active presence. I recognised the actress from an episode of Doctor Who ("The God Complex") that I'd recently rewatched, and it occurred to me then what a great companion she would have made: something like Martha Jones, except with a much more interesting backstory. Like Martha, Khan's character was a doctor, but unlike Martha, she was revealed to have had a troubled past with many childhood demons to work through. As an actress, I also felt that her performance was a lot more compelling than Freema Agyeman's. Perhaps it could still happen - actors are known for returning to Doctor Who. In any case, Amara Khan is definitely one to watch.

My absolute favourite character in this production, however, was Dogberry. Simon Nagra proved to be hilarious even before the play actually began. As the audience entered, Dogberry was already busy greeting the members of his watch by pulling them along by their ears and telling the audience off about mobile phones and ipads. He also announced the end of the interval to all the "gentlemans and ladies". We've been quoting his "kuh-naves" here ever since we left the theatre.

I thought that the setting worked wonderfully. Not only the stage, but the whole of the Courtyard theatre was beautifully decorated, transformed into a sunny and, in the foyer at least, noisy, Indian city. It has occurred to me before that certain of Shakespeare's plays - Romeo and Juliet, for example - might work very well in a contemporary fundamentalist Islamic setting. This play, however, explored the possibilities of an Asian setting for some of Shakespeare's work without getting into the kind of religio-politics that most westerners would probably expect from such a modernisation. Instead of a culture clinging to a dogmatic religious conservatism, we catch a glimpse instead of a nation in transition, a culture in which, as Jyotsna G. Singh explains in the programme, the roles of women and of marriage are changing and transforming where the very new and modern clashes with the very old. As in Romeo and Juliet, we see in Much Ado a conflict between generations, between the old and the young - but if the youth in Much Ado are not so rebellious as in Romeo and Juliet, neither are the older folks quite so strict or stuffy.

It's really fascinating to see the issues of women's rights and women's roles addressed from such a perspective. Here we have a middle ground between the relative freedom enjoyed by women in contemporary secular Britain, and the oppression suffered by those in strict religious communities. The result is something strange, where no one quite seems to know their proper roles - what they should be doing, what they ought to be worrying about - and those who come out best - that is, Beatrice and Benedick - are those apparently least concerned with their reputation, with issues of should and should not except on clear moral grounds, when a particular course of action causes hurt to another.

At a time when violence against Asians in the US is growing in response to terrorist activities, it's also exciting and important to be given insights like this into cultures that are often misreprestented and portrayed and understood in such a limited way in the west. So undiscerning are America's angry mob today that numerous Sikhs, Hindus and others (yes, even Christians) have suffered violence and abuse at their hands as well as Muslims, the intended targets of the attacks - though, as Nitsuh Abebe points out here, it essentially matters little - all discriminatory violence of this sort stems from ignorance and stupidity, and is unacceptable regardless of whom it affects. Most incredible of all, perhaps, is the comment at the end of the article above in which someone says that they were once told to "Go back to Africa you Indian". Given the ridiculousness of the statement in the first place, it's perhaps unsurprising that the target of this was neither African nor Indian. When so many white westerners can conceive of the world in such simplistic terms - where everything and everyone non-white and non-western might as well be the same - it's refreshing to see the complexities and intricacies of other cultures explored in any sort of high-profile way.

All serious notes aside, however, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and very very clever production that I'd recommend to anyone - Shakespeare buff or not. It was great to read that some of the actors involved - all of whom were brilliant - had reckoned that they couldn't "do Shakespeare", but that doing this play had changed their minds. Lets hope it changes the minds of a few new theatre-goers too!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Crowning Glory

I've neglected this for so long that I'm going to attempt to get through all parts two to four of The Hollow Crown in one (hopefully not too long) post.

Perhaps the main reason it's taken me this long to get round to writing on the Henry IV films is that both were so almost-perfect that it was difficult to think of much to say on them other than "great job!" Both films looked fabulous, and managed to weigh up the ideal balance of comedy and tragedy, especially through the character of Falstaff.

Simon Russell Beale absolutely shone in this role. Despite being primarily a stage actor, Beale more than proved his screen acting abilities, conveying Falstaff's every mood from mirth to misery with a convincing and compelling subtlety. Beale's Falstaff was one with a complex inner life beneath his foolish facade, and one that instantly captured its audience's heart. One criticism that I have heard levelled at this Falstaff is that he perhaps seemed over-aware of his inevitable end at a very early stage in the story. It's true there was a certain melancholy present in the tavern scene where Hal and Falstaff take turns playing the King. Personally, however, I felt this was nicely done: a concession to those of us who knew where things were headed, garnering greater sympathy, but not too heavy-handed, and certainly not enough to give away the ending to those who didn't already know it (and pleasingly, I'm sure there were a fair few of these, mainly for the reason I'll explain below).

More of a surprise for me was the strength of Tom Hiddleston's performance. Along, I suspect, with many other viewers, my only previous encounters with Hiddleston have been in the recent Marvel films, Thor and The Avengers. These weren't exactly positive or promising experiences: in the first, Hiddleston's Loki was the worst of many unengaging characters in a terrible, terrible film; in the second, he was amongst the least interesting characters in a reasonably entertaining romp. Now, having seen him do a bit of serious acting, I can safely say I've been a bit unfair to poor old Tom - it's not really his fault it was a bad role. Actually, Loki really ought to have been the only interesting character in Thor - or at least would have been if they'd actually thought to take a look at a bit of Norse mythology. Loki is an ambiguous, amoral trickster, not a brooding, self-pitying emo, but that's another story.... In any case, I'd begun to have an inkling that I'd misjudged him after reading some very intelligent things he'd written elsewhere (see esp.), and The Hollow Crown definitely confirmed this. As the young Prince Harry, he gave a beautifully nuanced performance - good enough to make me wonder why I've never seen him do Shakespeare on stage before. I also suspect that his presence in the film will be responsible for turning a significant number of young girls to Shakespeare, which, however scary the Hiddlestonettes may be, is probably no bad thing.

Also a surprise was Poins. Usually a fairly minimal character who seems little more than an accessory to Hal's and Falstaff's escapades, David Dawson's Poins actually stood out independently with a personality of his own. Within that little circle, too, I was impressed by the lads they had playing Falstaff's page across the series (though I didn't really buy the ending with them turning into John Hurt - I'm sure the character is actually meant to die in Henry V).

I really enjoyed Alun and Joe Armstrong as the dangerous Northumbrian rebels. The Percy family were a powerful one who continued to cause problems for the monarchy many, many years after this play is set (Funnily enough, I'm currently proofreading a novel for someone which details their involvement in plots against the Queen during Shakespeare's own time). Joe Armstrong in particular, who I hadn't come across before, was just fantastic as the hot-headed and hyperactive Hotspur. His scenes with Glyndwr and his daughter were hilarious. I did find the first scene between Hotspur and his wife a little uncomfortable. It was overly aggressive: I think really that their "argument" in this scene is meant more as flirtatious banter than domestic abuse. Still, this was made up for well enough in their later interaction, where their actual feelings for each other are made clear. I think this is important: one of the few things we can probably safely assume about Shakespeare is that he was keen on companionate couples, as opposed to marrying for money or titles or even looks, and all the unconvincingly schlocky and slightly creepy romantic wooing that tended to go with all of these (see especially Much Ado About Nothing).

If I had one major quibble with Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 in this series, it might be the over-sympathetic interpretation of Harry. I'm aware there are different ways of understanding a story, and just because I've always understood him as cold and calculating doesn't necessarily mean that everyone has to. The trouble is that if you ignore his "nastier" side, certain actions of his later on seem to make very little sense, especially once you get on to Henry V. The giveaway that something sinister is cooking in his head is in one of his all-important soliloquies, which in this production was done (rather well, on the whole) in voiceover. Unfortunately, the production ignored the clues in this speech that Harry is simply using Falstaff and his lower ranking "friends" so that he can learn how to win over the commoners to his cause once he is king. Mostly, the potential problems caused by this are evaded, at least in Henry IV, Part 2. When Hal finally severs ties with Falstaff, it's portrayed as a painful moment for him: his kingly role has forced him to relinquish his adolescent habits and companions. Some of his more Machiavellian actions in Henry V, however, were either given rather forced explanations (as when his order to kill all the French prisoners is interpreted through the prism of his boring brother's death), or just left at odds with the character in general (as in the final wooing scene).

While I'm on the subject of continuity, however, there was a bit of an issue with Henry IV himself. This was not so much the fault of those involved in the Henry plays, as it was a problem carried over from the interpretation of this character in Richard II. While in Henry IV the old king openly confesses his intentional usurpation of the crown, the younger Henry (as I previously mentioned) in Richard II seemed strangely confused and bewildered by Richard's voluntary hand-over of power. While some time has clearly elapsed between the end of Richard II and the beginning of Henry IV, Part 1, it's not enough for us to actually accept that these completely different actors and characters are supposed to represent the same historical figure. It seems odd that Richard II should stand out so much from the other three films, which at least all more or less seem to follow on from each other. Richard II doesn't feel like part of the same series.

On to Henry V then.....which, though not bad, was, I felt, considerably less impressive than its two immediate predecessors - perhaps less so, in fact, even than Richard II. The reasons for this were firstly its lack of ambition, and secondly the director's apparently scant knowledge of the film medium. While Richard II had its flaws, it at least attempted to do something exciting, interesting and innovative. It was, furthermore, very much a film. In comparison with the "Henrys", Richard II is rather a stiff sort of play, with lots of standing around talking and not doing much else. This makes it all the more impressive that Rupert Goold found all sorts of ways to make it into a visually engaging film. Thea Sharrock, on the other hand, somehow managed to do the opposite. In general, the battle scenes in Henry V worked well, but it wasn't really enough to bring the whole thing up to scratch. In many ways, Henry V is Richard II's polar opposite: so much stuff happens in this play that it's really quite a poor show if the story comes across as even slightly dull. Sharrock seemed not to know when and where to cut unnecessary dialogue, as well as not knowing how to make best use of the cameras. There was relatively little camera movement and few exciting shots, even at important moments in the story. One of the most obvious examples of both of these problems is when, towards the end of the play, the Duke of Burgundy mediates between Hal and the King of France. The shot is boring, stiff and the speech and scene in general just go on far too long.

When I said earlier that continuity was kept across the three "Henry" plays, I wasn't being entirely accurate. There was one glaringly obvious leap, which was when the oldest of Hal's brothers morphed from Henry Faber into Paterson Joseph. It was an ill-advised decision. In this case, the younger, less experienced actor was better. I can understand the child actors changing through the three films, but Faber was old enough to be stuck with, and besides, there's so little for the Duke of York to do in Henry V that it seemed completely pointless to employ a second, more expensive actor. I understand that they were trying to make more of his character in this film in order to justify a rather cruel action on the king's part. It didn't really work, however. Firstly, there just isn't enough material in the script to make enough out of the character to make us care about him - or even, for that matter, to make us believe that Harry does. Secondly, it is a cold-hearted command, and a practical one: there weren't enough English soldiers to guard the French prisoners and to fight at the same time. Thirdly, if they'd wanted a more emotional and sympathetic take on the situation, they could've more legitimately got it from another source: Harry is angry when the French army kill the boys guarding the camp, and nothing was really done with this.

Overall, I guess this Henry V would have made a passing decent stage shoe, if not a particularly extraordinary one. As a film though, it was second-rate, and made a disappointingly anti-climactic close to a generally excellent series.