Film Review – Henry IV Part 1 (1979)

Once again, the universe loves me, but not quite enough. In looking up some details for the film I watched this week, I discovered that there will be a new Henry IV (Parts 1 and 2) coming out some time this year with Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons. And I am super excited. But unfortunately, it’s not out yet so I instead had to resort to my old friend, The Complete Dramatic Works of Shakespeare series.

The film starts with a brief recap of what happened during Richard II and then dives straight into the play proper. We still have the same actor playing Henry IV, but there’s a different actor playing Falstaff than in Merry Wives of Windsor. Prince Henry suffers from a horrible haircut and the actor playing Hotspur has super curly hair that could use a bit of hair product (and I say this as someone with curly hair). The surprise actor for me was that Worcester is played by the actor that’s Mr. Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances (a brilliant British comedy you should definitely check out if you don’t know it).

The costumes are not too notable although King Henry does get stuck in one ridiculous hat early on in the film. Also, the plumage on King Henry, Prince Henry, and Prince Henry’s helmets during the battle at the end of the film are epic. Sadly, they don’t actually wear the helmets that much. But there is full on body armour so there’s some decent clanking going on. Also, Lady Percy is given some anachronistic eye make up (at least I don’t think Hotspur’s wife should be trying to perfect the smoky eye).

Speaking of Lady Percy, the scenes between her and Hotspur are absolutely adorable and I actually enjoyed watching them (gasp!). The two actors bring the banter and the pair of them are quite charming to the point where I felt sorry for Lady Percy knowing that Hotspur was going to die.

But let’s get to the real party, the battle scenes. Because there actually are some! Even when it’s just people talking on the field, there’s sounds of battle in the background and at least a couple people in the background pretending to fight. However, the swords don’t make the right sounds when they clash. They sound like fake swords when they hit each other rather than the sound you’d expect from heavy swords. Despite that flaw, the swordfight between Prince Henry and Hotspur is still pretty good although they include a bit of wrestling in there as well, which can’t be comfortable when you’re wearing a suit of armor (real or not).

The final verdict is that the film is better than some in this series but still not up to the par of what I’d expect from a regular film. On Sunday I’ll be resolving the cliffhanger when I review Henry IV Part 2.

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