For centuries, the French have been rather unhappy with William Shakespeare’s “Henry V” and his interpretation of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 – one of Britain’s greatest military triumphs during not just the Hundred Years War but of all time.
David Michod’s recent Netflix original feature “The King,” a reinterpretation of the famed work, takes far more poetic licence with the event and France is reportedly not happy with the film as it’s full of “historical untruths” along with being jingoistic and “anti-French”.
Christophe Gilliot, head of newly renovated Agincourt museum, tells The Telegraph: “I’m outraged. The image of the French is really sullied. The film has Francophobe tendencies… The British far-Right are going to lap this up, it will flatter nationalist egos over there.”
Among the inaccuracies – the battle wasn’t in a mountainous area but a flat plain, the Brits raping and pillaging of the French was overlooked, the king’s brutal execution of his French prisoners (via sledgehammers and daggers) was glossed over, and a whole scene in which the French force English boys to murder one of their own is “outrageous demonisation” says Gilliot.
Then there are the issues with the characters, from Robert Pattinson’s hammy take on French Dauphin Louis de Guyenne, to Timothee Chalamet Henry himself whom the Agincourt expert says was certainly not a “sensitive leader dragged into a conflict” but rather a “brutal, bloodthirsty war criminal with a massive scar from an arrow wound on his cheek”.
Recent historical research suggests Shakespeare’s play was decidedly embellished, including the defeat of a French army five times the size of the UK one when the actual number was probably closer to 1.33 times the size of the UK one.
Lily Rose Depp and Joel Edgerton co-starred in the film which scored fairly positive, but not great, reviews.