Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 9. July, 24, 1946
* Henry V
* Henry V
"Henry V" is an artistic triumph. There can be no doubt about this, until one meets either the person who believes in "pure" cinema or his supporter and rival of pure stage views. James Agate, the English critic, deplores this treatment of Shakespeare,
He considers Laurence Olivier a magnificent Henry, while he does not complain of any of those other players who are so faultlessly cast. Harcourt Williams, the doddering Charles VI, Rence Asheron as Princess Katherine and Max Adrian's Dauphin are left alone. Those who, in my opinion, have the most difficult tasks are the humorous players and their scenes are the weakest, but these he does not mention.
Nor does William Walton's superb incidental music, which remains incidental and does not become a Henry V Concerto, come between Agate and his Shakespeare.
No, what Agate does complain of is what he considers a first principle. Shakespeare is a stage play and should be confined to the stage, for once it "flies out the window" Henry V is an historical figure and the film's action takes place on two planes. This, he maintains, breaks its unity and it is therefore no longer a work of art.
Whatever Agate may say, and I do not deny that some of his accusation is true, yet Henry V remains the most successful filming of Shakespeare. The Intelligent use of the technicolour camera does not distract the audience from soliloquy, and that is one small indication of the art in this film.