Medieval times are back again. Ridley Scott is shooting his Untitled Robin Hood film, Christopher Smith is looking back at Black Death, and now, according to Variety, the London-based Independent Film Co. has optioned Bernard Cornwell’s novel Agincourt, to be adapted by Tudors / Elizabeth / 1906 writer Michael Hirst. Agincourt is one of the more famous battles in European history, and could make for a hell of a film. What? You say it has already been filmed (at least) twice, in the two versions of Henry V? No reason not to do it again, right?
Cornwell’s novel follows Nicholas Hook, who becomes an archer in the army of Henry V, ultimately to fight the French at Agincourt in 1415 as part of the Hundred Years War. Originally fighting as a mercenary archer in France, Hook heads home to England, where he’s discovered by Henry V, who recruits Hook into his army to go back to France and help the king take the French crown. In real life, the battle that ensued at Agincourt became known for the dominance of English longbows; common tellings hold that the longbowmen were massively outnumbered by the French, and that their victory was consequently a pretty big deal. Supposedly the English were outnumbered ten to one, but a couple of modern writers suggest that it was more like three to two, and the story of a victory against overwhelming odds was a political tool to buff up Henry V.
As screenwriters go, Tudors creator Michael Hirst is an interesting choice, since he’s better known for character work than big adventure stuff; with him on board, hopefully the potential film can develop some interesting personalities to hold all the swords and longbows.
Check out some of Kenneth Branagh’s vision of Agincourt, as appeared in his version of Henry V, below.