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Shakespeare Assignment #2

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For this assignment, you will compare Kenneth Branagh’s film of Henry V with Olivier’s earlier production. There are trailers and videos online also

summary’s of the videos so just base it off that.

Choose an important scene or episode from the text of Henry V. First, provide a one-paragraph summary of what is happening in this scene in the text.

Then explain why this scene matters to our interpretation of the play; are there different possible readings of the scene/portions of the text? What

choices are available to a director and actors? What information about the scene is absent from the text/stage directions? Think about: what conclusions

we might reach if we see/read the scene one way – then another.

Next, describe the scenes as they are interpreted in the Branagh and Olivier films. You will have to consider how the films deal with the text and how

the actors present the material. How are important lines delivered? How do characters interact and react? Explain only significant contrasts that speak

to your interpretive question. You will also have to consider the “language” of film itself: Explain significant choices in, for example, camera

movement or framing of each shot, cuts and editing choices, special effects or camera lens effects, point of view and perspective, lighting, color and

tone. You may describe one scene at a time or offer a running description of important contrasts (at least two paragraphs).

Finally, offer a concluding discussion, of 1-2 paragraphs, of the ways each film interprets the scene What How do different choices change our

understanding of the play? Consider the specific questions raised by this scene- which you have identified- and how each production attempts to answer


Specific Instructions
Your goal is not vaguely to characterize one film (you may not simply conclude that Olivier’s version is “more patriotic” or that Branagh is “more

realistic”). Instead, you want to examine how performance and staging influence our understanding of a specific interpretive issue that someone reading

the play might identify; your paper should illuminate Shakespeare’s work- not just the films.

You cannot rely on imprecise comparisons (“darker or “more realistic”). You may not lazily refer to cut lines as the crucial distinction between the

scenes, though you may certainly note significant omissions.

Please use single-spacing, 11 or 12-point Times, with breaks between paragraphs. Upload to D2L.
You may not simply repeat material from class discussions. Your grade will depend on effort, and the originality and depth of your discussion. For full

credit you must also; employ college-level writing; have a good fit between evidence and any conclusions you draw; show the order of your thinking;

provide accurate and well integrated quotations or paraphrase; show an understanding of the play with no factual errors; show that you fully considered

the whole play and did not just pick a few points from class; organize discussion in a logical way; meet all formatting guidelines.

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Last Updated on April 25, 2020

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