Monday, January 26, 2009

Non Nobis: Branagh's Henry V

Henry V. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. Perf. Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, and Judi Dench. 1989. DVD. MGM, 2000.
I've written about this scene before, but a comment from Alex Bledsoe made me revisit the scene.

Earlier, I was interested in the women who approach Henry in the middle of the scene; this time, I'm interested in the long, tracking shot that takes us over the exhausted battlefield (the movement from left to right after the battle is a mirror image of the movement from right to left in Olivier's Henry V before the battle) while the Non Nobis swells in the background. Take a look:


Now that you've seen that, think about the purpose(s) behind portraying the scene with that music and those words (Non nobis, Domine—Non nobis, sed nomine tuo de Gloriam:  "Not to us, O Lord, but to your name be glory") over it. Could it be that this Henry V is passing not only the responsibility of the victory to God—"Praised be God, and not our strength, for it" (IV.vii.86)—but also the blame of the battle's many dead—"Take it, God, / For it is none but thine" (IV.viii.112-13)?

Perhaps that case would be easier to make if they were singing Non nobis, sed nomine tuo de culpa, but I'd like everyone to consider the possibility at least.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

No comments:

Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2016 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest