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Laurence Olivier's presentation of "Henry V," 1945

Laurence Olivier's presentation of

Excerpt from Laurence in "Henry V," Folger Shakespeare Library:

The world was still at war when, at the request of the British government, Laurence Olivier directed, produced, and played the leading role in a film of Shakespeare's Henry V. Elaborate costumes like the one he wore for this hand-colored publicity photograph added to the cost of production, which ultimately exceeded that of any previous British film. But the result has been called "one of the canonical works of the Shakespearean cinema." Olivier also gave the Folger Shakespeare Library this copy of the shooting script of Henry V, with a gracefully phrased inscription in his own hand.

 The movie was not only a remarkable treatment of Shakespeare's work but also a brilliant piece of wartime propaganda. It presented a hopelessly outnumbered band of Britons prevailing over a Continental foe—and all through the words of the Englishman who has been called history's greatest playwright. Few at the time of filming could have missed the relevance of Henry's cry before the siege of Harfleur of "Once more unto the breach, dear friends," although the war was on the way to its European conclusion by the time the movie was released in late 1944.

Link to the full article and the information source: Folger Shakespeare Library -

Image Source: Circulating Collection, Print and Picture Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia. Subject: "King Henry V" -- Shakespeare.

Original image source: Publicity photograph of Laurence Olivier in "Henry V," 1945, Presented by the Theatre Guild. Released thru United Artists. Published by Chappell & Co. Inc.

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