Unlike the Shakespeare stage play, the Shakespeare screenplay is liberated from the confines of the theatre’s acting space by cinema’s film technology. This offers the potential of virtually unlimited playing spaces, the number and range of interior or exterior locations only being constrained by time and cost. Before Laurence Olivier’s film of Henry V was released in 1944, the battle of Agincourt in Act 4 had only ever been conveyed in stage productions by characters’ reports or spoken interactions between characters involved in the battle. In both Olivier’s film and then in Branagh’s 1989 Henry V movie, the battle was realized in outside locations in more or less convincing ways. We are not therefore wholly reliant on what the characters tell us through the play dialogue to experience the impact of the battle scenes on both sides: we actually see the English and French battling it out. Film can also move us about instantaneously from one location to another, ensuring that we experience a sense of time passing, but without the effects of discontinuity which the conventions of live playing forces on us in the theatre (e.g. actors entering and leaving the stage).
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