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Olivier’s Technicolor England: Capturing the Nation Through the Battlefields of Henry V (1944) and Richard III (1955)

  • Matthias Heim
Chapter

Abstract

Laurence Olivier’s films Henry V (1944) and Richard III (1955) shaped British society’s idealised image of the country as a verdant land unspoilt by war and rooted in a colourful medieval past. Olivier’s identity-building use of landscape is most evident in the battlefield scenes. In the battle of Agincourt, set in France, shot in Ireland, the English are victorious on unblemished green fields. The battle of Bosworth, filmed in Spain, removes civil war from the nation, locating it in the most un-English of landscapes. Despite their historical setting both films respond to contemporary preoccupations: Henry V insists on the Englishness of the land at stake at Agincourt and in 1944, and Richard III’s depiction of England’s infamous monarch undercuts the optimism prevalent in 1955.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Heim
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland

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