06 June, 2009

"O for a muse of fire . . . "

Good afternoon,

Some days all the cosmic tumblers just seem to fall into place*.  So as I returned from my morning workout at the beach, I switched on the television only to hear a simple flute melody playing in the background and Derek Jacobi utter those stirring words, "O, for a muse of fire."  It could only mean one thing - Shakespeare's Henry V directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh was just beginning.   Derek, Kenneth, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench, Brian Blessed, and even Robbie Coltraine are part of the impressive cast.

I've been a huge Shakespeare fan most of my adult life.  The magic of the language fascinates me.  And it's ability to transmogrify into most any era and place shows the timelessness of the text.  And of course for any fan of Henry V, there's always the stirring St. Crispin's Day speech.  But, you've got to earn it.  It's a good hour into the movie - and even further into the play . . . lol.  I know deep in my soul, there is little on this Earth that I can't do when I hear this . . . maybe it's just a 'boy thing' - 'cause it's a serious testosterone high . . . lol.

"Do we all holy rites;
Let there be sung "Non Nobis" and "Te Deum;"
The dead with charity enclosed in clay;
And then to Calais; and to England then;
Where ne'er from France arrived more happy men."
Act IV, scene VIII

- a bit of trivia - that's actually the Scottish composer Patrick Doyle who begins the "Non Nobis Domine" chant at the conclusion of the battle.  He has scored several of Branagh's films and always shows up somewhere.  and for some real minutia, Kenneth is actually carrying a very young Christian Bale (in one of his early roles) across the battlefield.

I hope everyone's weekend is full of such delightful and inspiring surprises.


* yes, I know that's a quote from "Field of Dreams," but it's another of my favourite phrases.  Shoot me, I'm a film geek.


Preppy 101 said...

Ahhh. what a dream to have had a student such as you in class - yes, it is for a retired English teacher!! The beauty of Shakespeare - there are really no words. Thanks for this post.

tartanscot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tartanscot said...

and I have always yearned for a better English teacher in high school when I was first introduced to the Bard. It was presented with such a laboured hand - and she didn't really have a passion for the material. I did well on the tests - but I never heard the magic.

for me, there was a watershed moment about 15 years ago - watching Henry V - in London with The Royal Shakespeare Company that changed my life. To say that it was sublime is an understatement. I remember having to sit in the stairwell when I left my seat . . . I was SO impacted by the performance I couldn't even stay standing.

home before dark said...

Transmogrify. One of my favorite words. How lovely to be seen in print by another lover of same.

Alicia said...

So sad to hear your teacher was so heavy handed. I was blessed with the warmest wonder of an English teacher who saw Shakespeare an asn ambassador rather than a chore.
I believe so many lacked that spark in the classroom only to be turned off the Bard forever.
Now not a Bard play I cna't help but wonder how long its been since you've seen
"Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead???"

tartanscot said...

O.M.G. it's been ages since watched "R&G are Dead" *updating neflix immediately*

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Amazing film.
I have Non Nobis Domine on my iPod. I always seem to listen to it a lot at Christmas. Don't know why.

My Notting Hill said...

Have you ever seen Paul Wylie's Olympic silver medal performance to the music from Henry V? It's incredible - should still be on You Tube. It's so amazing considering his triumph to even qualify for the Olympic team that year. Some would even argue (me included) that he should have taken the gold.

Valerie Wills Interiors said...

What a great post.... being from Blighty it was nice to read.... speaking of whih, I just posted on my blog about London and 3 of it's designers....



tartanscot said...


Oh my, three level of my geekdom (design, shakespeare, and men's figure skating) have all converged in one post . . . yay.

Yes, I do know that number - and also the Carmina Burana is a favouite - *digs around on youtube to find it*

thanks for the smile!


Darling, you must see... Slings and Arrows..a Canadian tv series available on Netflix....
Anyone else seen it???

Melissa said...

Ever seen the Macbeth modernization, Scotland, PA? Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern only with more Christopher Walken, which is never a bad thing.

More Branagh Henry trivia:
He filmed the seminal battle scene in a circle to emphasize the brutality of hand-to-hand combat and to render friend and foe indistinguishable to the camera and viewer. Genius.

tartanscot said...

Grayson- "S&A" is magnificent ! yes, it's a favourite of mine.

Melissa - haven't seen Scotland PA yet, but I'll chuck it in the netflix queue.

Meade Design Group said...

Well I think I need to start reading Shakespeare - maybe that will improve my English a little. I guess I will have to drop off The Hills for a while (lol)

tartanscot said...

don't worry . . . I'm watching Kathy Griffin . . . lol.

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