The King Review – A dramatic take on the medieval era

The King Review – A dramatic take on the medieval era

Very recently, I took to Ken Follett’s Kingsbridge series (The Century Trilogy). The graphic description of the medieval era took me back to the times where I could imagine wars, gut-wrenching politics and the malicious imperialistic ways that trample on the rights of a common man. The common man was treated as a nobody, whose life was cheap, and could go up on stake at the whim of the king. While I was reading the same, ‘The King’ released as a Netflix original, which is indeed a must-watch. The writers (Joel Edgerton and David Michôd) have taken to the literary texts of Shakespeare as the holy grail, and have admittedly concocted the same with their understanding and research of the medieval era to produce this film. The film is premised around the time when Henry the IV (Ban Mendelsohn) is about to die and is forced to crown Hal (also known as Henry V, Timothée Chalamet) as King. Hal is a young lad whose idea is to explore life by living with the common folks. He has little interest in politics and becoming a king. However, he is aware of the draining wealth in the treasury, and pretty much works his way towards avoiding needless civil wars as initiated by his father. The council is aware of the lad’s keen diplomatic ways, and silently condemns the King’s decision of making his younger son Thomas (Dean Charles Chapman) the King. However, while at war, Hal is inclined to use his political skills to bring the war to an end, and in favour of England. On his deathbed, King Henry IV changes his decision, making Hal the heir apparent. As soon as he ascends the throne, he is brought into a difficult situation as France forces England to go to war with them. The lad has inherited a political mess, and the film revolves around how Hal deals with the mess to bail out England from the riddling chaos. The writing is profound. The direction has manoeuvred viewers back to the tyrannical happenings of the medieval times. The war scenes were gut-wrenching, and one can see how the 22-year-old protagonist Timothée has invested in the kind of physicality to deliver viewers to the nuances of war. The war scenes can sweep the viewers off their feet! The costumes well define the necessities’ of the era. The mood is sullen and dark and is well portrayed with the play of light. However, this could be varied, as at times the sets are too dark (yes indeed I even had my idiot box serviced upon after that). The cameraman could have advantageously harnessed the goodness of England’s natural lighting to create more drama that could prove to be impactful. The language (to my delight) is understandable. Considering its an old war film, and the special fondness the writer has for Shakespeare, my worries jeered towards taking the time to comprehend the nuances of old English that involved sentences heavily laden with words like thou, thy, and thee. Since the language is easy on the ears, the content opens itself to a wider target audience. I deeply admire the bond that Hal and John Falstaff’s (Joel Edgerton) have in the film. It doesn’t only look real but feels real. It is interesting how the director has excellently moulded young Timothee sussing the very best out of him. I have also enjoyed the role of Catherine (Lily Rose Depp) as Hal’s only sister and advisor. Robert Pattinson very convincingly plays the role of the French Dauphin. The music could have been more pronounced, as I genuinely thought that the background score was slightly underplayed. Overall a must-watch, but make sure that you’ve got your mind to it. It is a genuine classic and isn’t exactly easy on the mind.

Rating: 4/5


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