Henry V steps up to the throne in a kingdom where people scarcely smile, the public’s exchange of dialogue is stoic and unrealistically flawless. The movie adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play “Henry V” titled “The King” was directed by David Michôd and was nominated in the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts for best film, best screenplay and best direction.

The film focuses on England’s royal predicament in the 15th century when Henry V is the only heir to the throne after his brother is killed in battle. When he steps into power, an assassin sent by the French attempts to take his life before being captured.

Inevitable war breaks out against the French, and the movie progresses from there. Featuring Robert Pattinson as the Dauphin, or prince of France, this film fell nowhere short of what was expected. It was a dark, edgy drama with dialogue that fit perfectly for an angst-driven teenager’s imaginary arguments. What was not expected was the cinematography. Using creative camera angles and eerie music, the film created a gloomy ambience.

The most notable scene was that of the first siege on the French. They erected three trebuchets and launched flaming rocks on a French castle for several days. The scene depicted long shots of the hulking catapults tossing flaming rocks; the fire created an arc of flames in its wake. The long shot slowly panned towards the castle under siege, showing the rocks barreling themselves into the walls from afar gave the scene a chilling edge.

As an aside, producers, screenwriters and directors need to make a historical fiction film without making it so dark and edgy. It’s as if each character spent their hourly shillings at Ye Olde Hot Topic. Everyone’s face had a shadow cast over their face either downward or sideways in order to show that they had a dark side.

The whole film was edited with a desaturated filter reminiscent of early 2000s hard rock band’s album covers. Despite some minor flaws like the fact that when a character stepped into the rain, they would not get wet, the film was quite well-done. It’s a long movie, clocking around two hours and 20 minutes, but the film flows efficiently.

While the film has its moments of edge and angst, it is a well-rounded piece of cinema that absorbs the eerie atmosphere of modern horror films into a Shakespearean adaptation. Make way for the new standard for historical fiction films.



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