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In terms of how effective the two films were in synthesising the elements of Shakespeare’s original “war play”, and using them to portray two very different aspects of leadership and of how a great war leader portrays himself, both films, albeit in very different ways, offer equally effective renditions of this central element of the play. Shakespeare himself intended the play to be used as propaganda to enlist people into the army, and the rousing speech about the nobility of war proves central to both film adaptations of the play. In the first, Olivier’s rendition of the words are done in a more minimalist way. Henry’s motivational speech is enunciated without any additional cinematographic devices, which highlights the delivery of the language and the subtleties of the words, rather than attacking the feeling the speech intended to rouse by using expressionist devices such as non-diagetic music and camera movement. Indeed, the Olivier produced piece is stark in the way it re-enacts the war scenes, as dialogue is very infrequently used in conjunction with dialogue. Conversely, Branagh uses a massive orchestral score during his rendition of the motivational speech, and the effect of portraying both the brutality and the nobility of great leadership in war is very different. Both films are effective in their own ways – the Branagh directed piece, although it lacked the subtlety of personal performance and the vocalisation of Shakespeare’s lines that Olivier’s had, also provided audiences with a Hollywood spectacle less encumbered by the sanctity of Shakespearean language, and more interested in providing a slice of historical entertainment, which, arguably, would have been Shakespeare’s original intention.


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