‘The King’ is the 2019 film adaptation of the 15th century rule of King Henry, directed by David Michod and an invaluable historical source. It centers around Henry V, a king that was admired by England and through David Michod’s portrayal, turned into a legend as he recreated his glorious lead in the Battle of Agincourt against the cruel Dauphin. This adaptation of Henry’s life, however, is inaccurate when reconstructing the past, while loosely interpreting real events into the plot, much of the movie’s storyline isn’t factual and was dramatized, moreover, made up for entertainment, therefore verifying its disvalue when reconstructing the past.
David Michod presents Henry as a young morose teenager, who devoted to being everything his father despises. Rather than taking up his responsibility as a prince and learning to become a member of royalty, he is shown to be a troubled, hedonistic youth, drowning himself in alcohol and waking up to a new woman every morning. Especially at start of the film, where in his opening scene he is asleep and has to be hassled awake, seemingly unlike the actions of a stereotypical prince. This perspective is limited in showing his extensive history of war as Henry was actually heavily involved in his father’s court and fought several of his battles. ‘Vita Henrici Quinti’, a biography written by Tito Livio Frulovisi during the late 1430s, states that Henry “was a fervent soldier of Venus as well as of Mars; youthlike, he was fired with her torches”. Then, after describing the battle of Shrewsbury, writes “in the midst of the worthy works of war, found leisure for the excesses common to ungoverned age”. The film never shows this side of his teenage years, instead, paints his and his father’s relationship as one of hate and alters the events of the Welsh rebellion by having Henry’s brother lead it. The reliability of the film is decreased due to this narrow perspective as it’s clear the false depiction of Henry was created to entertain the audience rather than inform. David Michod clearly prioritized entertainment over historical recount as he changed Henry’s character to portray the story of a troubled, self-indulgent boy who was forced into becoming a king, when in reality Henry was always a respectable member of the royal family. Conclusively, ‘The King’s inaccurate representation of Henry’s personality belittles the perspective and reliability of the film, therefore diminishing its value when reconstructing the past.
The lack of value in the ‘The King’ as a historical source continues to be evident during the lead up and events of the Battle of Agincourt. The film presents Henry as a peace-loving king who is reluctant to rush into war with France, only doing so after receiving a provocative gift and an assassination attempt from the Dauphin. In reality, the Dauphin was not nearly as big of a trickster as the film makes him. Henry actually declared war on France as he sought out power and glory. According to Trevor Royle’s ‘Lancaster Against York: The Wars of the Roses and the Foundation of Modern Britain’, the real Henry thought he was “divinely ordained to carry out God’s great work”. Henry believed he was entitled to conquering France, humbling the powerful nation with display of military might and continuing a battle that began with his great-grandfather Edward III who had staked a claim on both the French and English thrones. Additional inaccuracies of ‘The King’ are evident during the Battle of Agincourt. The film’s depiction of the rivalry between Henry and the Dauphin is at its core towards the ending of the movie. Several scenes show their conflict face to face, including the Dauphin’s closing scene where he and Henry battle each other. However, all of these were created for dramatic effect and to capture the attention of the audience. The Dauphin, according to an article on Screen Rant “was nowhere near Agincourt at that time … a year later, it was reported that the Dauphin was actually with his father in Rouen, a good 95 miles away from the site”. The perspective of David Michod is inadequate in showing the truthful events of the Battle of Agincourt. His false portrayal of the relationship between Henry and the Dauphin, which was realistically close to nonexistent lowers the ‘The King’s reliability as a source as the scenes shared between the two characters were made up. Furthermore, the incorrect depiction of Henry as a harmonious king lacks in retelling his thirst for power, which was the real reason for his declaration of war on France. The depiction of the Dauphin was also questionable as he wasn’t actually at the Battle of Agincourt, let alone did he have a duel with the King of England. Due to the unreliability of ‘The King’ and its narrow perspective of the Battle of Agincourt, it is clear that it can’t be considered a valuable source when reconstructing the past.
Ultimately, ‘The King’ is an invaluable source in reconstructing events of history due to David Michod’s carelessness for historical accuracy and priority of entertainment value. These issues resulted in limited perspectives and unreliable scenes that were made up for the purpose of appeasing viewers, therefore diminishing the value of the source and twisting Henry V’s teenage years and reign as King of England.