Friday, August 17, 2012


We Few, We Happy Few

Hey, Kenneth Branagh's completely-perfect-and-better-than-Olivier's Henry V is now on Netflix Instant. This is the best part. I watched this twice a day in high school* instead of making out with boys in cars. And look how I turned out!

*...and belonged to a Kenneth Branagh newsgroup that had t-shirts printed which said "I wear it for a memorable honour".

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Sister! I also watched too many Kenneth Branaugh movies instead of making out with boys in cars. Sooo many viewings of Henry V and Much Ado, sooo little smooching. Also, when I face any sort of challenge, you better believe I always say to myself "once more into the breach, dear friends!"


One of the greatest scenes in a film I have ever seen!@j


My 12th grade English class watched this right at the very beginning of the semester. We had a lot of presentations to do in that class and our teacher encouraged a certain amount of creativity in them, so at least once a week for the rest of the semester, a presentation would end with someone standing on a chair melodramatically reciting bits of this speech. Because Kenneth Branagh is *that* inspiring.

It was more impressive once we got to reading Solzhenitsyn and were still finding ways to incorporate Henry V.

maybe partying will help

If his Hamlet went up on Instant I would never leave the house again. Just watch it and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, one after another, again and again and again, until I passed through nature into eternity.


@maybe partying will help or, perhaps, you had shuffled off your mortal coil?


@maybe partying will help I've watched it too many times (well, and A Room With a View before it was taken off Instant), it's getting to be a problem.



So, when I was in high school I went to Shakespeare Camp, because of course I did, and one of the graduate-level program actors there that summer did this speech and I, age fourteen, just about died because HE LOOKED RIGHT AT ME.

This version gives me chills. Honest to god chills. A well-performed Shakespearean monologue will do me in like absolutely nothing else. I actually tweeted the other day about how the most erotic thing that I could imagine was Benedict Cumberbatch as Edmund, just to hear the "Thou Nature art my Goddess" speech in That Voice.

That's it, I need to stop fucking around and audition for shit again.


@thatgirl Oh god you had to bring the Cumberbatch in to this.

I'll be in my bunk.


@austengirl I'd apologize, but we both know I wouldn't mean a word of it.


@thatgirl 1) No kidding THIS FUCKING SPEECH. 2) Oh God Cumberbatch as Edmund ... cue biting of handkerchief and a search for smelling salts. Is there any audio of him reciting Shakespeare? His "Ode to a Nightingale" is stunning but it is of course from a bit over two centuries later (also he keeps dropping words which I find distracting, but never mind).


yes! i love this movie. when it came out i was twelve and my parents were mid-divorce, and for probably the only time ever i leveraged their guilt on purpose to make them take me to see this movie three times total (once with my dad, twice with my mom).

i still watch it regularly. my very favorite is when he tells montjoy "bid them achieve me and then sell my bones."


Ok, but everybody should watch the new BBC version with Tom Hiddleston as soon as they become available outside the UK, because it was fantastic. I mean, TH is maybe better as Hal than as Henry, but still. (They did Richard III and both Henry IVs as well, all amazing.)


@oboe-d-amore Ooooohhhh... that is intriguing. I do like this version much better than Olivier, but I am not committed to it being the BEST version.


@oboe-d-amore YES! Um... I might have acquired the entire "The Hollow Crown" series via shady means because I could not wait to see Mr. Hiddleston's Prince Hal. The man knows how to emote daddy-issues with his eyes.

And considering their friendship/mentorship, Mr Branagh would agree- watch "The Hollow Crown".


@PistolPackinMama Here is the trailer for the "series": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRFH140H1Qw

(The music/dialogue balance is a lot better in the actual plays.)

you're a kitty!

@oboe-d-amore Thea Sharrock is a goddamn genius and I love Hiddleston's Henry V more than air.

But to my surprise I also SERIOUSLY ADORED Ben Whishaw's Richard II, so, watch all of them, everybody.


@Kinloch Yeah, he really does. And I thought he played Hal's ambiguity pretty perfectly.


@oboe-d-amore And there miiiight be complete versions of the video on YouTube. Not HD, obviously, but the def is high enough.

It's wonderful to compare the Hollow Crown stuff with Branagh's Henry V; Thea Sharrock does an interesting job--with a much smaller budget--of making the production different and engaging.

Hiddleston has some trouble keeping his heels down at the canter, but that's pretty much my only quibble with his performance.


@3penny I admit, my eyes weren't able to drift that far down to inspect his heels & stirrup position- I was too distracted by the eyes, and his curls!


@Kinloch I have a one-track mind. Well, no, but my God, it's reassuring to see that he has a flaw.


@3penny Ha! Well follow his twitter account, his musical tastes... are occasionally both adorable and terrifying. Still, you would have thought with all the equitation lessons for War Horse ... not that I can talk, I still turn my toe out and I've been riding since I was 10.


@you're a kitty! Am dying to see Whishaw!


@sudden_eyes Whishaw was awesome, but I did kind of have to take breaks to laugh at the ridiculous of Richard III a couple times. But that just attests to how well he played it?

you're a kitty!

@sudden_eyes AMAZING, it was amazing. It made me want to watch The Hour just because HOW DOES ACTING WORK


@Kinloch We all have our besetting sins, but fo' true, his toes are pointing at the ground in the opening of Henry V. "Yes, you are a young and a vigorous and a merrily laughing king, but GIT THEM HEELS DOWN 'FORE YOU GET THROWED!" *kaff* I may or may not be focusing on this because I teared up realizing, halfway through the Crispin's Day speech, that he'd already been shown dead at the beginning of the program, and just couldn't cope. It's a nasty little twist: you know, intellectually, that Hal's been dead for centuries, but having it underlined that way got me right in what Catherine de Valois would call "des feels."

I owe Hiddleston's twitter feed for the intro to This Will Destroy You. What do people do at those concerts, though: try to achieve delta state in unison?


Love this so much. Although rather than Crispin's, I've taken to rallying the coworkers (many of them Brits) at work with the pre-game pep-rally from the siege of harfleur:

Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more / or close up the wall with our English dead!

They don't always appreciate it. But it goes over slightly better than when I start playing "Come Out Ye Black & Tans" at my desk when angry at them.


I remember the first time I ever heard this. I was in high school, in a Shakespeare competition (yeah, I was a nerd) and one of the other contestants did this. When he was done, I was ready to go fight some French.

Also, it makes me think of this: "Which mattered more at Agincourt, the longbows or Henry’s St. Crispin’s Day speech?"


@Blushingflwr Longbows, definitely


@Blushingflwr I think Terry Pratchett was referring to that speech when he talked about writing something that would pull a bunch of tired hungry wet cold dispirited rabble to their feet by their testicles. It does! It doth!

Was it the longbow that turned the day, or the disadvantage of heavy cavalry + mud, or a combination? I know Poitiers is cited as the first longbows-vs-French-cavalry case (advantage: pointy things), but I don't actually know the tactics that succeeded at Agincourt.


Whatever, we all know that The Road to El Dorado was Branagh's best work.

maybe partying will help


Kk-kk, are you serious?

Princess Slayer

@maybe partying will help I mean it's pretty amazing but HAMLET


@frigwiggin Let's not forget his....very interesting accent as an LA detective in Dead Again.


@frigwiggin "We're both in barrels. That is the extent of my knowledge."



"Tulio, did you ever imagine it would end like this?"

"The horse is a surprise."


@frigwiggin "Your horse bit me in the butt!"


@frigwiggin "We're both in barrels. That's the extent of my knowledge."


@frigwiggin "Both. Both. Both. Both is good."

Princess Slayer

My high school best friend and I had an unofficial Branagh/Oldman club where all we did was watch the filmographies of Kenneth Branagh and Gary Oldman instead of making out with boys.


@Princess Slayer Can I join this club???

Setec Astrology

I had a man-crush on KB during high school. And the news of his cheating on Emma Thompson with HBC was very upsetting...


@Setec Astrology I think Emma has done okay out of the deal, to be really honest. If she hadn't, I would be more upset about it now. Come to think of it, HBC has done okay, too.

So, is KB married now or what?


@PistolPackinMama Wikipedia says he's married to director Lindsay Brunnock, and HBC introduced them. Very cozy.


@Setec Astrology Totes. I was also really sad when I read that she was fooling around with Greg Wise during S&S filming, but I think that was tabloid nonsense. They all seem happily partnered now.

de Pizan

@austengirl I believe by the time Thompson started with Wise, Branagh had already done the cheating and they were separated.


@de Pizan That chronology sounds about right.


Let us not forget young Christian Bale at 1:44.


@meetapossum Seconded. Look at that little face! If I need to cry, btw, I rent Empire of the Sun. It's a lengthy commitment but worth it for the catharsis.


@meetapossum Baby Christian Bale's face is a known cure for migraines.


@meetapossum I know! So precious. And then he's DEAD a few scenes later. *BRB sobbing*


Okay yes, but what about Love's Labour's Lost?!?!? When they are singing and dancing around and suddenly start FLYING?!?!? LOVE.


Yes, this, but also Emma Thompson's French princess practicing the parts of the body in English: "D'elbow."


@laurel My husband and I still call those parts "da bilbo" and "da foot" regularly.


Patrick Doyle's soundtrack for Henry V - great music, or greatest music?


@JanieS KBran and Patrick Doyle are a match made in heaven, which is probably why I love the soundtrack of Thor so much.


Buffy: "Remember: The ritual starts, we all die; and I'll kill anyone who comes near Dawn."
Spike: "Well, not exactly the St. Crispin's Day speech, was it?"
Giles: "We few, we happy few..."
Spike: "...we band of buggered."

squeegy beckenheim

@rbrtposteschild --haha that's exactly where my mind goes too!!

Jeff Makowski@twitter

A VHS copy of this (for those who remember, they never released a 'mass-market' version of Henry V on VHS, so the retail version was only supposed to be for rental, and was $100) was the only thing that could get me to my college-era McJob in the Army Surplus store.

One 'Harfleur' and one 'Crispin's' speech daily, before I would remotely be capable of dealing with the unwashed masses.

My high school buddies and I were some of the few to actually catch this first-run, in an actual theater. As we left the parking lot, afterwards, we'd contemplated our odds at how long we'd have to drive before we could find Frenchmen to accost (Montreal, by our reckoning…).

Also, if you ever have to be at a French & Indian War historical re-enactment, start softly singing "Non Nobis" as you stroll through the French campsite. Maybe only one of the re-enactors will catch it, but he'll shoot you the dirtiest stink eye imaginable.


@Jeff Makowski@twitter Huh. My mom definitely got a VHS copy that's probably still lying around somewhere. I wonder if it was an ex-rental. It had a cardboard sleeve, not a plastic case.


This seems like a good place to bring up "Slings and Arrows," the Canadian series about a Shakespearian theater company with a crazy director and also a ghost director. Plus Mark McKinney from Kids in the Hall! SO GOOD


@SunnChips I watched that about a year after I'd spent a summer as an intern at a regional Shakespeare theater, and I almost cried with how real it is. Especially the parts that seem most absurd.


@SunnChips Sooo good. But I won't lie, I was very rattled when my beloved GILBERT BLYTHE all of a sudden showed up in the 2nd season as a washed-up, girlfriend-biography-stealing playwright.


YESSSSSS, best adaptation. KBran! Brian Blessed!! Baby Christian Bale! Derek Jacobi who I sometimes forget is a butthead Oxfordian theorist! I die over the concluding scene with Emma Thompson and mourn the fact that they aren't still married, although she's probably better off.

Also I would be very much surprised if Joffrey Baratheon's overall look isn't based somewhat off KBran at the beginning of this movie.


And Judi Dench!


@de Pizan That chronology sounds about right.


Wow! This brought back so many memories of year-nine English and having to perform the Harfleur speech in front of the class. I can still recite it! Anyway. I never realised how YOUNG Kenneth Branagh was then, how '90s his haircut was or how oddly non-existent his lips were.


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