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Movie History

June 2024
1min read

Although I enjoyed Mark C. Carnes’s article “Hollywood History” (September), I must take issue with his assessment of Shakespeare’s historical accuracy in Henry V. Carnes accuses Shakespeare of “omitting the fact that Henry V slaughtered hundreds of French prisoners at Agincourt,” but in scene 6 of act 4, Henry V gives the command “every soldier kill his prisoners”; in the scene following, Gower reports, “the king most worthily hath caused every soldier to cut his prisoner’s throat. O, ‘tis a gallant king!” It was not Shakespeare who rewrote history (although he did do so on occasion), but Sir Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh who cut this unflattering incident from their filmed versions of Henry V. Professor Carnes should know better than to expect accuracy from movies.

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