Nationality: British. Born: Belfast, Northern Ireland, 10 December 1960; family moved to Reading, England, 1969. Education: Meadway Comprehensive School, Reading; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, graduated 1982. Family: Married actress Emma Thompson, 1989 (divorced, 1996). Career: Actor on the West End stage and on television, beginning 1982; early stage successes included Another Country, 1982, and Francis (as St. Francis of Assisi), 1984, both plays written by Julian Mitchell; joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, 1983, and at twenty-three became the youngest actor ever to play the title role in Shakespeare's Henry V; also appeared in the RSC's Hamlet (as Laertes) and Love's Labour's Lost (as the King of Navarre), playing the three roles in repertory in Stratford and London, 1984–85; wrote and directed play Tell Me Honestly, 1985; left RSC to produce and direct Romeo and Juliet, 1986 (in which he also starred); with actor David Parfitt, created the Renaissance Theatre Company, 1987; Renaissance productions in which Branagh played a prominent role included: Public Enemy (also written by Branagh); Twelfth Night (directed by Branagh; also televised), 1987; Hamlet (as Hamlet, directed by Derek Jacobi); As You Like It (as Touchstone, directed by Geraldine McEwan); Much Ado about Nothing (as Benedick, directed by Judi Dench), 1988; John Osborne's Look Back in Anger (as Jimmy
Porter, also televised); King Lear (as Edgar, also directed); A Midsummer Night's Dream (as Peter Quince, also directed), 1989; Uncle Vanya (co-directed); and Coriolanus (title role), 1992. Returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company to star in Hamlet in London and Stratford, 1992–93; television work includes roles in The Boy in the Bush, the Billy Trilogy, adaptations of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Ibsen's Ghosts, and O'Neill's Strange Interlude, Fortunes of War (mini-series), The Lady's Not for Burning and Shadow of a Gunman, 1982–1995; also narrated television documentary series, Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood, 1995; acted in first film, High Season, 1987; formed film production company, Renaissance Films PLC, October 1988; directed first film, Henry V, 1989; acted in star-studded Renaissance Theatre Company radio broadcasts (available on CD and cassette) commissioned by the BBC to commemorate Shakespeare's birthday, 1992–94; other radio work includes Diaries of Samuel Pepys and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.Awards: Bancroft Gold Medal, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, 1982; Most Promising Newcomer Award, Society of West End Theatres, 1982, for Another Country; Best New Director from New York Film Critics Circle, Evening Standard Best Film of the Year, Best Film and Technical Achievement Award from British Film Institute, Best Director Award from British Academy of Film and Television Artists (BAFTA), and Best Director Award from National Board of Review, all 1989–90, all for Henry V; Honorary D. Lit., Queen's University, Belfast, 1990; "Golden Quill" Award from America's Shakespeare Guild, 2000. Agent: Rick Nicita, Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A. Address: Shepperton Studios, Studio Road, Shepperton, Middlesex, TW17 OQD England.
Films as Director and Actor:
Henry V (+ title role, adapt)
Dead Again (+ro as Mike Church/Roman Strauss)
Peter's Friends (+ ro as Andrew Benson, pr); Swan Song (d only)
Much Ado about Nothing (+ ro as Benedick, adapt, co-pr)
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (+ ro as Dr. Frankenstein, co-pr)
In the Bleak Midwinter (A Midwinter's Tale) (d only, + sc)
Hamlet (+ title role, adapt)
The Betty Schimmel Story
Love's Labour's Lost (+ro as Berowne, adapt)
High Season (ro); A Month in the Country (ro)
Swing Kids (ro)
Gielgud: Scenes from Nine Decades (doc for British TV) (narrator)
Othello (ro, pr); Anne Frank Remembered (narrator); Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (doc series for British TV) (narrator)
Looking for Richard (Pacino) (as himself)
Cold War (series for TV) (as Narrator); The Gingerbread Man (Altman) (ro as Richard "Rick" Magruder); The Proposition (ro as Father Michael McKinnon); Celebrity (Allen) (ro as Lee Simon); The Theory of Flight (ro as Richard); The Dance of Shiva (ro as Colonel Evans)
Wild Wild West (ro as Dr. Arliss Loveless)
How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog (ro as Peter McGowan); The Road to El Dorado (voice of Miguel)
By BRANAGH: books—
Public Enemy (play), 1988.
Beginning (autobiography), Norton, 1989.
Henry V (screen adaptation with introduction), Chatto & Windus, 1989.
Much Ado about Nothing (screen adaptation, introduction, and notes on the making of the film), Norton, 1993.
The Making of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, 1994.
In the Bleak Midwinter (screenplay with introduction), Nick Hern Books, 1995.
By BRANAGH: articles and interviews—
"Formidable Force," an interview with Michael Billington, in Interview, October 1989.
Interview with Joan Lunden, broadcast on Good Morning, America, American Broadcasting Company, 23 August 1991 (program number 1355).
"Hamlet Takes to the Air," an interview with Heather Neill, in TimesEducational Supplement, 24 April 1992.
Interview with Charles Gibson, broadcast on Good Morning, America, American Broadcasting Company, 21 December 1992 (program number 1701).
"Once More, onto the Screen," an interview with Peter Barnes, in Los Angeles Times, 2 May 1993.
"Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson Discuss Collaboration Much Ado about Nothing," an interview broadcast on ShowbizToday, CNN, 11 May 1993 (program number 293).
Interview with Iain Johnstone, in Times (London), 15 August 1993.
"Branagh Talks about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," an interview with Charlie Rose, broadcast on the Public Broadcasting System, 26 October 1994 (program number 1234).
"It's a Monster!," an interview with Graham Fuller, in Interview, November 1994.
"Branagh Discusses His Life and Career," an interview with Charlie Rose, broadcast on the Public Broadcasting System, 30 December 1994 (program number 1281).
Interview with John Naughton, in Premiere (U.K. edition), December 1995.
"Branagh's 'Bracing' Encounter with the Bard," in Variety (Brewster), 16–22 December 1996.
"Hamlets forspill," an interview with J. Ova, in Film & Kino (Oslo), 1996.
"Idol Chatter," an interview with A. Weisel, in Premiere (Boulder), December 1996.
"My Friends Say I Need a Psychiatrist," an interview with Andrew Duncan, in Time Out (London), 15 February 1997.
"Kenneth Branagh: With Utter Clarity," an interview with Paul Meier, in TDR (Cambridge, MA), Summer 1997.
On BRANAGH: books—
Shuttleworth, Ian, Ken & Em: A Biography of Kenneth Branagh andEmma Thompson, St. Martin's, 1995.
Drexler, Peter, and Lawrence Gunter, Negotiations with Hal: Multi-Media Perceptions of Henry the Fifth, Braunschweig, Germany, 1995.
Hatchuel, Sarah, A Companion to the Shakespearean Films of Kenneth Branagh, Winnipeg, 1999.
Weiss, Tanja, Shakespeare on the Screen: Kenneth Branagh's Adaptations of Henry V, Much Ado about Nothing, and Hamlet, Frankfurt and New York, 1999.
On BRANAGH: articles—
Whitebrook, Peter, "Branagh's Bugbear," in Plays and Players, March 1985.
Renton, Alex, "Renaissance Man," in Plays and Players, July 1987.
Forbes, Jill, review of Henry V, in Sight and Sound, Autumn 1989.
Nightingale, Benedict, "Henry V Returns as a Monarch for This Era," in New York Times, 5 November 1989.
Champlin, Charles, "The Wellesian Success of Citizen Branagh," in Los Angeles Times, 9 November 1989.
Fuller, Graham, "Journals: Two Kings—Kenneth," in Film Comment, November/December 1989.
Kliman, Bernice, "Branagh's Henry V: Allusion and Illusion," in Shakespeare on Film Newsletter, December 1989.
Willson, Robert F., Jr., "Henry V: Branagh's and Olivier's Choruses," in Shakespeare on Film Newsletter, April 1990.
Breight, Curtis, "Branagh and the Prince, or a 'Royal Fellowship of Death,"' in Critical Quarterly, Winter 1991.
Donaldson, Peter, "Taking on Shakespeare: Kenneth Branagh's Henry V," in Shakespeare Quarterly, Spring 1991.
Willson, Robert F., Jr., "War and Reflection on War: The Olivier and Branagh Films of Henry V," in Shakespeare Bulletin, Summer 1991.
Weber, Bruce, "From Shakespeare to Hollywood," in New YorkTimes, 18 August 1991.
Booe, Martin, "Ken Again," in Premiere, September 1991.
Rafferty, Terrence, "Showoffs," in New Yorker, 9 September 1991.
Feeney, F. X., "Vaulting Ambition," in American Film, September/October 1991.
Deats, Sara Munson, "Rabbits and Ducks: Olivier, Branagh, and Henry V," in Literature/Film Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 4, 1992.
Pursell, Michael, "Playing the Game: Branagh's Henry V," in Literature/Film Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 4, 1992.
Tatspaugh, Patricia, "Theatrical Influences on Kenneth Branagh's Film: Henry V," in Literature/Film Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 4, 1992.
Smith, Dinitia, "Much Ado about Branagh," in New York, 24 May 1993.
Barton, Anne, "Shakespeare in the Sun," in New York Review ofBooks, 27 May 1993.
Sharman, Leslie F., review of Much Ado about Nothing, in Sight andSound (London), September 1993.
Light, Allison, "The Importance of Being Ordinary," in Sight andSound (London), September 1993.
Ryan, Richard, "Much Ado about Branagh," in Commentary, October 1993.
Lane, Robert, "When Blood Is Their Argument: Class, Character, and Historymaking in Shakespeare's and Branagh's Henry V," in ELH, Spring 1994.
Landy, Marcia, and Lucy Fisher, "Dead Again or Alive Again: Postmodern or Postmortem?," in Cinema Journal (Austin), Summer 1994.
Shaw, William P., "Textual Ambiguities and Cinematic Certainties in Henry V," in Literature/Film Quarterly, vol. 22, no. 2, 1994.
Parker, Daniel, Mark Kermode, and Pat Kirkham, "Making Frankenstein and the Monster," in Sight and Sound (London), November 1994.
Thomson, David, "Really a Part of Me," in Film Comment (New York), January/February 1995.
Gritten, David, "Kenneth Branagh on the Rebound," in Los AngelesTimes, 3 June 1995.
Lavoie, A., "Les Shakespeare se ramassent a la pellea" in Cine-Bulles (Montreal), vol. 16, no. 1, 1997.
Lundeen, Kathleen, "Pumping up the Word with Cinematic Supplements," in Film Criticism (Edinboro, PA), Fall 1999.
* * *
It is impossible to consider Kenneth Branagh's meteoric rise as a film director and actor without taking into account the career in the British theatre which shaped it—and to which Branagh still periodically returns. Classically trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where he was awarded the prestigious Bancroft Gold Medal as outstanding student of the year, Branagh completed his course of study in 1982, then moved rapidly into a series of attention-getting roles on the West End and on television. His early association with Shakespeare's plays began with an invitation to join the Royal Shakespeare Company at the age of twenty-three, and he became the youngest actor ever to perform the title role in an RSC production of Henry V. Important parts in other Shakespeare productions in that 1984–85 season contributed to Branagh's emergence as a stage director soon thereafter.
He left the RSC to direct an independent production of Romeo and Juliet (in which he also starred) and, primarily, to form (with actor David Parfitt) his own production group, which became a reality in 1987 as the Renaissance Theatre Company. Renaissance acquired a high profile in rapid time, with Branagh and other major British actors directing a variety of productions in which they also appeared, in London and on national and international tours. Hamlet (with Branagh in the title role, directed by Derek Jacobi)—which, like Henry V, would become a play with which Branagh would be permanently linked—and Twelfth Night (directed by Branagh and later remounted for television) were among Renaissance's most successful late-1980s productions. The company's success enabled Branagh to make his first film, now financed through the production company he called Renaissance Films PLC.
Most actors who turn to film directing do so in mid-career, ordinarily after they have obtained considerable experience in front of the camera. Even Laurence Olivier, whose professional path Branagh's career so frequently appears to emulate, did not direct his first film until he was in his late thirties, and by then, after twenty-two screen appearances, he was a major star. In 1989, when Branagh directed his first film at the age of twenty-nine, his scant movie experience included just two feature films. By that time, however, he had achieved remarkable success as an actor, director, and producer on the British stage and in a variety of important television roles. And, as it happened, he had already written several plays of his own, one of them (Tell Me Honestly) produced by the RSC, another (Public Enemy) produced to launch the first Renaissance season. In this unusual, multitalented respect, Branagh's formative years most resemble the early career of Orson Welles—who made Citizen Kane, his first film, when he was twenty-six, after establishing a formidable theatre and radio presence in the late 1930s. Welles had the Mercury Theatre as his special training ground; Branagh had the Renaissance.
It is surely no accident, however, that the first film Branagh directed (and adapted and starred in) was the same first film which Laurence Olivier directed (and adapted and starred in): Henry V, the final history play in Shakespeare's tetralogy on kingship, which begins with Richard II and also includes King Henry IV, Parts One and Two. The comparisons and contrasts between the two films are genuinely striking, reflective of the periods in which they were made and of the imposing talents of the men who made them.
Olivier, responding to Winston Churchill's plea for a film to rally Britain in the final days of World War II, creates a ringingly, unambiguously heroic Henry for the ages, an idealized monarch who leads England to victory against France with commanding force tempered by humanity. Olivier's Henry V ensures that English history is represented as comedy. The excision of lines spoken by the Chorus in the play's final scene makes the romantic pairing of Henry and Katherine appear deceptively permanent, thereby assuring the wartime spectator of a stable English future in fact contradicted by Shakespeare's text and by English history. This interpretation is visually reinforced: Olivier's Henry V is artfully shot to highlight a deliberate sense of artificial cinema space; a Disneyesque mise-en-scene, with its heightened technicolored landscapes, illustrates a fairy-tale universe in which battles are won with little serious injury.
Olivier's and Branagh's versions of Henry V have virtually identical running times (136 and 138 minutes, respectively). Like Olivier's version, Branagh's attempts to create a reflexive illusion of theatre itself in the film's opening section, though Branagh alters and reduces Olivier's reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to insinuations of a movie sound stage. Like Olivier's version, Branagh's includes explicit references to Henry's earlier relationship with Falstaff in the two Henry IV plays. And, like Olivier's actors, Branagh's dazzling cast (many of them associated with Renaissance) includes some of the finest Shakespearean verse speakers available.
In virtually every other respect, Branagh's film diverges from Olivier's. His Henry V represents history as tragedy. Significant passages omitted by Olivier, because they reflect flaws in Henry's character or guilt at his father's usurpation of the crown from Richard II, are restored by Branagh. Although he properly retains the heroic elements required by such set speeches as the Saint Crispian's Day call to arms, his portrayal of the king emphasizes the dark and complex elements within Henry's character. Unlike Olivier's version, Branagh's film includes the conspiracy against Henry. This portion of the film is dimly lit, heavily shadowed. Henry behaves in Machiavellian fashion and appears unsympathetic in his own conspiratorial behavior. In text restored to the Harfleur sequence, Henry looks and sounds downright pathological. War scenes feature death marches; soldiers die in mud and muck. Quick cuts, slow-motion photography, extended tracking shots, and unusual framing perspectives are employed to heighten the inescapable anti-war ideology vital to Branagh's approach. A few more liberties are taken with the text than in Olivier's version, including the placement of the king at the hanging of Bardolph. The inclusion of liturgical music in Patrick Doyle's wonderfully evocative score contributes movingly to the film's power. Most notable of all, perhaps, Branagh restores the lines Olivier cut from the Chorus's speech which conclude the play on such a dark note. Henry V may, indeed, have created the world's "best garden," but the peaceful idyll he achieved was short-lived once his infant son inherited the throne: "Henry the Sixth, in infant bands crowned King/Of France and England, did this King succeed,/Whose state so many had the managing/That they lost France, and made his England bleed."
By any measure, Branagh's Henry V is a stunning film. That it succeeded so powerfully in duplicating, perhaps surpassing, Olivier's achievement is all the more striking in the context of its director's youthful audacity. Branagh's other Shakespeare films include the superb Much Ado about Nothing, Hamlet, and Othello (with Branagh cast as a vividly slimy Iago), which Branagh unfortunately did not direct. Othello is visually tame, the Shakespeare text excessively cut.
But Much Ado about Nothing proved that Branagh's success with Henry V was no fluke. Co-starring Emma Thompson as Beatrice opposite Branagh's Benedick, Much Ado certified his nimble approach in making Shakespeare accessible and entertaining, while preserving much of the original poetry and literacy. Branagh's screen adaptations of Much Ado and Hamlet also confirm what had become strikingly evident in his leadership of the Renaissance Theatre Company: He is a keenly savvy—some might say cynically savvy—marketer of his projects. By casting such actors as Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington, and Robert Sean Leonard alongside Branagh, Thompson, and other British actors in Much Ado, and by casting Robin Williams, Jack Lemmon, Gerard Depardieu, and Billy Crystal alongside Branagh, Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud, and Julie Christie in Hamlet, Branagh strengthens his films' potential international markets, particularly in the United States. Such patterns of casting do not always work, but they do help to attract financing and have influenced recent attempts by others to adapt Shakespeare to the screen.
Although the text of Much Ado about Nothing has been severely pruned by Branagh, like his Henry V, it emerges on screen as a highly intelligent, clearly told story. Filmed on location in Tuscany, Much Ado is visually enchanting, as vibrantly bright and sensually warm as Henry V is consciously dark and (until the wooing scene) cold. Like so much of his film work, Branagh's reading of Much Ado derives a great deal from his performance (also opposite Emma Thompson) in Renaissance's stage production of the play, directed by Judi Dench in 1988. Branagh has written of the potentially filmic images that haunted him during performances of that production in his introduction to the published screenplay: "One night during Balthasar's song 'Sigh No More, Ladies,' the title sequence of this film played over and over in my mind; heat, haze and dust, grapes and horseflesh, and a nod to The Magnificent Seven. The men's sexy arrival, the atmosphere of rural Messina, the vigour and sensuality of the women, possessed me in the weeks, months, and years that followed."
"Emotional volatility," Branagh writes in this essay, was the key to the Beatrice-Benedick relationship. But, most especially—in Much Ado as in virtually all Renaissance stage and screen productions—the rehearsal process depended on a genuine desire to eliminate "artificial Shakespeare voices" in favor of acting "naturalness" which would retain the poetry while conveying the "realistic, conversational tone" present in much of the play's original dialogue. The witty battle of the sexes, so often the essence of comedy, is splendidly articulated here in the Branagh-Thompson dueling lovers. Like Henry V, Much Ado proves in both visual and aural terms that, even when Branagh cuts Shakespeare's text perhaps more than he should, he knows exactly how and why he is doing it.
Among Branagh's non-Shakespearean films, Dead Again deserves special mention. A film in which Branagh and Emma Thompson both play dual roles, it reveals Branagh's knowledge of other films, filmmakers, and genres—and his considerable versatility as both actor and director. Dead Again employs numerous conventions of film noir, including the periodic insertion of a 1940s plot-line, shot in black and white, into the film's main story, which is photographed in color. Numerous references to specific films (including Citizen Kane, Psycho, Vertigo, and noir detective pictures) periodically appear. (Dead Again even makes droll reference to one of its featured actor's early television successes: Derek Jacobi's I, Claudius series.) The film's detective hero, Mike Church, displays Branagh in James Cagney mode. The screenplay and performances are extremely witty, by turns frightening the spectator into total identification or saturating him with over-the-top red herrings that become self-reflexively and genuinely funny. Robin Williams's uncredited appearance as a psychiatrist is among the film's cleverest surprises.
Peter's Friends and In the Bleak Midwinter are modest entertainments, partially autobiographical, it would appear, particularly In the Bleak Midwinter (released in the United States as A Midwinter's Tale). Here, Branagh affectionately satirizes a group of actors attempting to mount a production of Hamlet, and the film appeals especially to admirers of British theatre. It should be noted, particularly in audience anticipation of Branagh's Hamlet movie, that he returned to the RSC to play the title role in a magnificent, sold-out production of that play (directed by Adrian Noble) during the 1992–93 season. In numerous ways, Hamlet is likely to be the Shakespeare play with which Branagh (who also directed the all-star BBC radio version) remains most closely identified.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is as "big" a Branagh film as Peter's Friends and In the Bleak Midwinter are small ones. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and costing forty-four million dollars, the film stars Branagh (who also directed) as Victor Frankenstein and Robert De Niro as the tormented creature. It contains numerous imaginative pleasures, but its overblown representation of an implicitly overblown story brought general critical wrath upon Branagh's head at the time of its release. It has became a rare example of a Branagh film that (to date) is a commercial failure.
In January, 2000, Branagh was awarded the Golden Quill by the Shakespeare Guild, an American society devoted to fostering appreciation of the Bard in the United States. The award preceded by three months the American premiere of Branagh's film Much Ado about Nothing—a work taking what might be considered substantial liberties with the Shakespearean text. Branaugh, who starred, directed, and wrote the screenplay, set the story in the 1930s and made it a musical comedy, complete with period songs by Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. American critics tended to praise the film for its freshness and mixture of cinematic styles; British reviewers were, on the whole, considerably less generous.
The careers of Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, as frequent co-stars and a prominent acting couple, have attracted considerable publicity, especially since their marriage in 1989 and separation in 1995. (Their relationship has invited frequent comparison to the one between Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, who eventually divorced.) Each has always made films without the other; and Thompson has won Oscars for Best Actress in Howards End and for Best Screenplay Adaptation for Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Nevertheless, some of the most magical moments in Branagh's films feature the two of them together (Henry V, Peter's Friends, Dead Again, Much Ado about Nothing).
—Mark W. Estrin, updated by Justin Gustainis
"Branagh, Kenneth." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/branagh-kenneth
"Branagh, Kenneth." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved June 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/branagh-kenneth
Branagh, Kenneth 1960-
Branagh, Kenneth 1960-
Surname is pronounced Bran-och; full name, Kenneth Charles Branagh; born December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland; son of William (a plumber and carpenter) and Frances (maiden name, Harper) Branagh; married Emma Thompson (an actress and writer), August 20, 1989 (divorced, 1995); married Lindsay Brunnock (an assistant art director), May 24, 2003. Education: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, graduated, 1981. Religion: Protestant. Avocational Interests: Playing the guitar, reading.
Office—Kenneth Branagh, Ltd., Shepperton Studios, Studio Road, Shepperton, Middlesex TW17 0QD United Kingdom. Agent—Endeavor, 9601 Wilshire Blvd., 3rd Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90210; Special Artists Agency, 9465 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 890, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Manager—The Hofflund Company, 9465 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 420, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.
Actor, director, producer, and writer. Royal Shakespeare Company, member of the company, 1983-85; Renaissance Theatre Company, cofounder, 1987, director, producer, and actor, 1987; Renaissance Films, PLC, founder, 1988; Kenneth Branagh, Ltd., Middlesex, England, principal; Chichester Cinema, New Park, England, vice president.
Bancroft Gold Medal, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, c. 1980;Laurence Olivier Theatre Award, most promising newcomer, Society of West End Theatre, and Plays & Players Award, both 1982, for Another Country; Television Award nomination, best actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1987, for "The Lady's Not for Burning," an episode of Fortunes of War; National Board of Review Award, best director, New York Film Critics Circle Award, best new director, and Technical Achievement Award, British Film Institute, all 1989, Film Award, best direction, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Chicago Film Critics Award, best foreign film, European Film Awards, best actor, best director, and young European film of the year, Academy Award nominations, best director and best actor, and Film Award nomination, best actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, all 1990, and Evening Standard Award, best film, all for Henry V; honorary Litt.D., Queen's University, Belfast, Ireland, 1990; William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger, 1991; Peter Sellers Award for Comedy, Evening Standard, 1992, for Peter's Friends; Golden Berlin Bear nomination, Berlin International Film Festival, 1992, for Dead Again; Academy Award nomination, best short—live action film, 1993, for Swan Song; Michael Balcon Award, outstanding contribution to cinema, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1993; Golden Palm Award nomination, Cannes International Film Festival, 1993, and Independent Spirit Award nomination (with others), best feature, 1994, both for Much Ado about Nothing; French Order of Arts and Letters, 1994; tied for Golden Osella Award, best director, and nominated for Golden Lion Award, both Venice International Film Festival, 1995, for In theBleak Midwinter; Film Excellence Award, Boston Film Festival, 1995; Academy Award nomination, best screenplay adaptation, 1996, for Hamlet; Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, best supporting actor, 1996, for Othello; Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination, favorite villain, 2000, for Wild Wild West; Inspiration Award, Empire Awards, 2000; Golden Quill (Gielgud Award), 2000; honorary degree, University of Birmingham, 2001; Emmy Award, outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie, 2001, Television Award nomination, AFI actor of the year—male—movie or miniseries, American Film Institute, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, 2002, Television Award nomination, best actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 2003, all for Conspiracy; ALFS Award, British supporting actor of the year, London Critics Circle Film Awards, Phoenix Film Critics Society Award nomination (with others), best acting ensemble, 2003, both for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or a movie, 2002, Television Award nomination, best actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 2003, both for Shackleton; Laurence Olivier Theatre Award, best actor, Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination, best actor, 2004, both for Edmond; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actor in a miniseries, Satellite Award nomination, outstanding actor in a miniseries or a motion picture made for television, International Press Academy, 2005, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or miniseries, 2006, all for Warm Springs; Queer Lion—Special Mention and Golden Lion Award nomination, Venice Film Festival, 2007, both for Sleuth; also received an International Emmy Award for best documentary.
Judd, Another Country, London, 1982.
St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis, London, 1984.
King of Navarre, Love's Labour's Lost, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, then London, 1984-85.
Title role, Henry V, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1984-85.
Laertes, Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, then Barbican Theatre Center, London, 1985.
Public Enemy, Renaissance Theatre Company, London, 1987.
Title role, Hamlet, Tivoli Festival, Renaissance Theatre Company, Elsinore Castle, Denmark, 1988.
Jimmy Porter, Look Back in Anger, Renaissance Theatre Company, 1989.
Edgar, King Lear, Renaissance Theatre Company, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, 1990.
Peter Quince, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Renaissance Theatre Company, Mark Taper Forum, 1990.
Title role, Coriolanus, Renaissance Theatre Company, Chichester, England, 1992.
Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, then London, 1992-93.
Title role, Richard III, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, England, 2002.
Edmond, Royal National Theatre, Olivier Stage, London, 2003.
Also appeared in Romeo and Juliet, Renaissance Theatre Company, London; The Golden Girls; The Madness (solo show); Three Sisters.
Toured as Benedict, Much Ado about Nothing, Renaissance Theatre Company, British cities; Touchstone, As You Like It, Renaissance Theatre Company, British cities; Laertes, Hamlet, British cities.
Twelfth Night, Renaissance Theatre Company, 1989.
King Lear, Renaissance Theatre Company, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, 1990.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Renaissance Theatre Company, Mark Taper Forum, 1990.
The Play What I Wrote, Everyman Playhouse, Liverpool, England, 2001, then Lyceum Theatre, New York City, 2003.
Also directed The Life of Napoleon, Renaissance Theatre Company; (with others) Uncle Vanya, Renaissance Theatre Company.
(With David Parfitt) Hamlet, Renaissance Theatre Company, Tivoli Festival, Elsinore Castle, Denmark, 1988.
(Uncredited) Artist, Chariots of Fire, 1981.
D. H. Lawrence, Coming Through, 1985.
Charles Moon, A Month in the Country, Orion Classics, 1987.
Rick Lamb, High Season, Hemdale, 1987.
Title role, Henry V, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1989.
Mike Church and Roman Strauss, Dead Again, Paramount, 1991.
Andrew Benson, Peter's Friends, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1992.
Performer of excerpts from Henry V, Symphony for the Spire (also known as His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales Symphony for the Spire and A Spectacle of Music and Theatre in Aid of the Salisbury Cathedral Spire Appeal), 1992.
(Uncredited) Herr Knoff, Swing Kids, Hollywood Pictures, 1993.
Seigneur Benedick, Much Ado about Nothing, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1993.
Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein (also known as Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"), TriStar, 1994.
Iago, Othello, Columbia, 1995.
Title role, Hamlet (also known as William Shakespeare's "Hamlet"), Columbia, 1996.
Himself, Looking for Richard (documentary), Fox Searchlight Pictures, 1996.
Himself, Making "Hamlet" (documentary), 1996.
Himself, 100 Years of Horror: The Frankenstein Family, Passport International Entertainment, 1996.
Himself, To Be On Camera: A History with Hamlet (documentary short), Warner Home Video, 1997.
Colonel Evans, The Dance of Shiva, Epiphany Productions, 1998.
Father Michael McKinnon, The Proposition, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, 1998.
Lee Simon, Celebrity, Miramax, 1998.
Richard, The Theory of Flight, Fine Line, 1998.
Rick Magruder, The Gingerbread Man, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, 1998.
Dr. Arliss Loveless, Wild Wild West, Warner Bros., 1999.
Himself, The Book That Wrote Itself, RGH/Lions Share Pictures, 1999.
Narrator, The Betty Schimmel Story (documentary), 1999.
Narrator, Galapagos: The Enchanted Voyage (short documentary film), IMAX, 1999.
Voice of periwig-maker, The Periwig-Maker (animated short), Ideal Standard Film, 1999.
Berowne, Love's Labour's Lost (also known as Peines d mour perdues), Miramax, 2000.
Peter McGowan, How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog, Millennium Films, 2000.
Voice of Miguel, The Road to El Dorado (animated), DreamWorks SKG, 2000.
Behind the Scenes: "The Road to El Dorado" (documentary), 2000.
Actor and director, William Shakespeare, 2000.
Joseph Barnett, Schneider's 2nd Stage, 2001.
Steven Chesterman, Alien Love Triangle, Dimension Films, 2001.
A. O. Neville, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Miramax, 2002.
Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (also known as Harry Potter und die kammer des schreckens), Warner Bros., 2002.
Narrator, The Tramp and the Dictator (documentary), Warner Home Video, 2002.
Himself, Interviews with Professors & More (documentary short), 2003.
Uncle Albert, Five Children and It (also known as 5 Children & It and Cinq enfants et moi), 2004.
Narrator, Das Goebbels-Experiment (documentary; also known as The Goebbles Experiment), First Run Features, 2005.
(Uncredited) Himself—offscreen voice, As You Like It, 2006.
The Magic Flute (also known as La flute enchantee), 2006.
Henning von Tresckow, Valkyrie (also known as Walkure), United Artists, 2008.
Director and producer, Henry V, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1989.
Director, Dead Again, Paramount, 1991.
Director, Swan Song (short), Renaissance Films, 1992.
Director and producer, Peter's Friends, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1992.
Director and producer, Much Ado about Nothing, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1993.
Director and producer, Frankenstein (also known as Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"), TriStar, 1994.
Director, In the Bleak Midwinter (also known as A Midwinter's Tale), Sony Pictures Classics, 1996.
Director, Hamlet (also known as William Shakespeare's "Hamlet"), Columbia, 1996.
Director, The Betty Schimmel Story (documentary), 1999.
Supporter, The Periwig-Maker (also known as Der Peruckenmacher), 1999.
Director and producer, Love's Labour's Lost (also known as Peines d mour perdues), Miramax, 2000.
Director, Listening (short), 2003.
Director, executive producer, and producer, As You Like It, Lionsgate, 2006.
Director, The Magic Flute (also known as La flute enchantee), Revolver Entertainment, 2006.
Director and producer, Sleuth, Sony Pictures Classics, 2007.
Television Appearances; Series:
Multiple roles, Thompson, 1990.
Television Appearances; Miniseries:
Host, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Disney Channel, 1983.
Jack Grant, Boy in the Bush, ABC [Australia], 1984.
Guy Pringle, Fortunes of War, BBC, 1987, broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1988.
Gordon Evans as an adult, "Strange Interlude," American Playhouse, PBS, 1988.
Sir Ernest Shackleton (title role), Shackleton, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Oswald, The Ghosts, BBC, 1986.
Thomas Mendip, The Lady's Not for Burning, ITV, 1987.
Billy, Lorna, 1987.
Jimmy Porter, Look Back in Anger, Thames, 1989.
General Reinhard Heydrich, Conspiracy, HBO, 2001.
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, Shackleton, 2002.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Warm Springs, 2005.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Charles Tansley, To the Lighthouse, PBS, 1983.
Himself and Hamlet, Discovering "Hamlet" (documentary), PBS, 1990.
The 62nd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1990.
The European Film Awards, 1990.
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Disney Channel, 1990.
The Last Show on Earth, Central Independent Television, 1992.
Tales of Gold, BBC, 1992.
Narrator, Gielgud: Scenes from Nine Decades (documentary), 1994.
Himself, The True Story of Frankenstein, Arts and Entertainment, 1994.
Narrator, Anne Frank Remembered (documentary), BBC and Disney Channel, 1995.
Host and narrator, Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (documentary), PBS, 1996.
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 1996.
The 69th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1997.
Narrator, Cold War (documentary), CNN, 1998.
Narrator, Universal Horror (documentary), TCM, 1998.
Narrator, Great Composers, BBC, 1999.
Narrator of British version, Walking with Dinosaurs (animated documentary), BBC and Discovery Channel, 1999.
Narrator, The Making of "Walking with Dinosaurs" (documentary), BBC, 1999.
The BBC and BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Tribute to Richard Attenborough, BBC, 1999.
Narrator (UK version), The Ballad of Big Al (also known as Allosaurus: A Walking with Dinosaurs Special), BBC and Discovery Channel, 2000.
Narrator of British version, Big Al Uncovered (also known as The Science of Big Al), BBC, 2000.
Narrator, Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces, TCM, 2000.
Presenter, The 54th Annual Tony Awards, CBS and PBS, 2000.
Narrator (UK version), Triumph of the Beasts (also known as Science Special: Triumph of the Beasts and The Science of Walking with the Beasts: Part One), BBC, 2001.
Narrator, The Beasts Within (also known as Science Special: "The Beasts Within" an The Science of Walking with the Beasts: Part Two), BBC, 2001.
Narrator, Following the Rabbit-Proof Fence (documentary), 2002.
Judi Dench: A BAFTA Tribute, BBC, 2002.
"Robert Altman in England," Omnibus, BBC, 2002.
Narrator, World War 1 in Colour, 2003.
Narrator, Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic, TCM, 2004.
A Tribute to Joe Mantegna, 2004.
Narrator, Walking with Monsters, 2005.
Stephen Fry: 50 Not Out, BBC4, 2007.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Robert Clyde Moffat, Maybury, BBC, 1981.
Student, "Easter 2016," Play for Tomorrow, BBC, 1982.
Billy, "Too Late to Talk to Billy," Play for Today, BBC, 1982.
Billy, "A Matter of Choice for Billy," Play for Today, BBC, 1983.
Robert Clyde Moffat, "Love's Labour: Part 2," Maybury, BBC, 1983.
Billy, "A Coming to Terms for Billy," Play for Today, BBC, 1984.
Himself, Wogan (also known as The Wogan Years), BBC, 1986.
Late Night with David Letterman, NBC, 1991.
Good Morning, America, ABC, 1991, 1992.
Showbiz Today, CNN, 1993.
The Charlie Rose Show (also known as Charlie Rose), PBS, 1993, 2000.
Donal Davoren, "Shadow of a Gunman," Performance, BBC, 1995.
Film '96 (also known as The Film Programme), BBC, 1996.
Dias de cine, 1996.
"Hamlet," HBO First Look, HBO, 1996.
The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996, 1998, 2000.
"It's a Whole New West: The Making of ‘Wild, Wild West,’" HBO First Look, HBO, 1999.
Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 2000, 2007.
"The Road to Eldorado," HBO First Look, HBO, 2000.
Parkinson, 2000, 2007.
"Richard Briers: A Good Life," Funny Turns, BBC, 2000.
Narrator, "Mammoth Journey," Walking with Beasts (also known as Walking with Prehistoric Beasts), Discovery Channel, 2001.
"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," HBO First Look, HBVO, 2002.
Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show, syndicated, 2005.
Narrator, "The Man Behind Hitler," The American Experience, PBS, 2006.
Voice (Bible readings), Secrets of the Dead, PBS, 2006-2007.
Eigo de shabera-night, 2007.
Entertainment Tonight (also known as E.T.), syndicated, 2007.
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, CBS, 2007.
Television Work; Movies:
Executive producer, Wallander, BBC, 2008.
Title role, Hamlet, BBC, 1992.
Romeo, Romeo and Juliet, BBC, 1993.
Edmund, King Lear, BBC, 1994.
As I Walked Out One Morning/A Moment of War, BBC, 1994.
Cider with Rosie, BBC, 1994.
Also appeared in Diaries of Samuel Pepys; Frankenstein.
Cousin Phyllis, 1988.
Cover to Cover, 1988.
Last Enemy, ASV Records and Tapes, 1990.
Title role, Hamlet, Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1992.
Romeo, Romeo and Juliet, Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1993.
Anthem for Doomed Youth, Random House Audio Books, 1993.
Longshot, Harper Audio, 1994.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Simon & Schuster Audio, 1994.
Edmund, King Lear, Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1994.
Captain and the Enemy, Chivers Audio Books, 1995.
Pepys Diary, Hodder Headline Audiobooks, 1995.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Trafalger Square, 2002.
(With others), King Lear, Naxos, 2002.
C. S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, 2003.
Dr. Arliss Loveless, "Wild Wild West," The Will Smith Music Video Collection, Sony Video, 1999.
Tell Me Honestly, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1985.
Public Enemy, Renaissance Theatre Company, London, 1987, published by Faber (London), 1988.
Henry V (adaptation of the play by William Shakespeare), Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1989, published by Chatto and Windus (London), 1989.
Much Ado about Nothing (based on the play by Shakespeare), Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1993, published with introduction and notes, Chatto and Windus, 1993.
In the Bleak Midwinter (also known as A Midwinter's Tale), 1995, Sony Pictures Classics, 1996, published as In the Bleak Midwinter: The Shooting Script, Nick Hern Books (New York City), 1995, published as A Midwinter's Script, Newmarket Press (New York City), 1996.
Hamlet (based on the play by Shakespeare; also known as William Shakespeare "Hamlet"), Columbia, 1996, published in Hamlet: The Making of the Movie, including the Screenplay, Norton, 1996.
Love's Labour's Lost (based on the play by Shakespeare; also known as Peines d mour perdues), Miramax, 2000.
As You Like It (adaptation of the play by Shakespeare), Lionsgate, 2006.
The Magic Flute (also known as La flute enchantee), Revolver Entertainment, 2006.
Beginning (autobiography), Chatto and Windus (London), 1989, Norton (New York City), 1990.
The Making of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," 1994.
Hamlet: The Making of the Movie, including the Screenplay, Norton, 1996.
Shakespeare on the Screen: Kenneth Branagh—Adaptations of Henry V, Much Ado about Nothing, and Hamlet, revised edition, Peter Lang (New York City), 2000.
Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 59, Thomson Gale, 2005.
Davies, Anthony, and Stanley Wells, editors, Shakespeare and the Moving Image, Cambridge University Press (New York City), 1994.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Directors, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 1996.
Newsmakers: The People Behind Today's Headlines, Gale, 1992.
Parsons, Keith, and Pamela Mason, Shakespeare in Performance, Salamander Books, 1995.
Shuttleworth, Ian, Ken & Em: A Biography of Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, Headline (London), 1994.
Advocate, February 20, 1996, pp. 42-49.
American Film, September/October, 1991.
Cineaste, winter, 1998, pp. 34-41.
Cinema Journal, summer, 1994.
Commentary, October, 1993.
Critical Quarterly, winter, 1991.
Daily Mail (London, England), June 2, 2003, p. 26.
Empire, Issue 66, 1994, pp. 98-109.
Esquire, January, 1990; September, 1991; December, 1994.
Film Comment, November/December, 1989; January/February, 1995.
Harper's Bazaar, February, 1990.
Hollywood Reporter, March 22, 1990.
Interview, October, 1989; November, 1994.
Literature/Film Quarterly, Volume 20, number 4, 1992; Volume 22, number 2, 1994.
Los Angeles Times, November 9, 1989; May 2, 1993; June 3, 1995.
Maclean's, August 26, 1991.
Madison, December, 1998.
Movieline, September, 1991.
New Republic, December 4, 1989.
Newsweek, February 19, 1990.
New York, February 12, 1990; May 24, 1993.
New Yorker, September 9, 1991.
New York Review of Books, May 27, 1993.
New York Times, January 8, 1989; November 5, 1989; November 8, 1989; January 21, 1990; August 18, 1991; March 28, 1993; May 16, 1993; November 9, 1994.
People Weekly, February 12, 1990; October 4, 1999, p. 115.
Plays & Players, March, 1985; July, 1987.
Premiere, September, 1991, pp. 74-78; February, 1993; December, 1995; December, 1996, p. 60; June, 1999, p. 102.
Publishers Weekly, March 23, 1990.
Rolling Stone, November 30, 1989; February 8, 1990.
Shakespeare Quarterly, spring, 1991.
Sight and Sound, September, 1993; November, 1994.
Starlog, February, 1995.
Sunday Times (London), October 1, 1989; October 8, 1989.
Time, November 13, 1989; February 5, 1990.
Times (London), August 17, 1985; July 18, 1987; August 15, 1993.
Times Educational Supplement, April 24, 1992.
Times Literary Supplement, October 20, 1989.
Vanity Fair, March, 1988.
Village Voice, May 25, 1993.
Vogue, January, 1988.
"Branagh, Kenneth 1960-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/branagh-kenneth-1960
"Branagh, Kenneth 1960-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved June 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/branagh-kenneth-1960
Nationality: Irish. Born: Kenneth Charles Branagh in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 10 December 1960; moved to Reading, England, at age nine. Family: Married the actress Emma Thompson 1989 (separated 1995). Education: Was graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. Career: 1982—acted on the British stage, gaining attention for his performance in Another Country; 1984—joined the Royal Shakespeare Company; in TV mini-series Boys in the Bush; 1987—co-founded the Renaissance Theatre Company, for which he writes and directs; in TV mini-series Fortunes of War; 1988—in TV series Thompson; 1989—wrote biography, Beginning, in order to raise money for the Renaissance Theatre Company; earned international acclaim as director, adapter, and star of Henry V. Awards: Bancroft Gold Medal, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, 1982; Society of West End Theatres' Award, Most Promising Newcomer, and Plays and Players Award, for Another Country, 1982; Best Director, National Board of Review, Best New Director, New York Film Critics Circle, Best Actor and Young European Film of the Year, European Film Awards, British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for Best Director, and Evening Standard Award, Best Film, for Henry V, 1989; Evening Standard Peter Sellers Award for Comedy, for Peter's Friends, 1992; BAFTA Michael Balcon Award, Outstanding Contribution to the Cinema, 1993. Agent: Clifford Stevens, STE Representation, Beverly Hills, CA, U.S.A. Address: 83 Berwick Street, London W1V 3PJ, England.
Films as Actor:
Too Late to Talk to Billy (Paul Seed—for TV)
To the Lighthouse (Colin Gregg—for TV) (as Charles Tansley)
Coming Through (Barber-Fleming—for TV) (as D. H. "Bert" Lawrence)
Ghosts (Moshinsky—for TV) (as Oswald)
High Season (Peploe) (as Rick Lamb); A Month in the Country (O'Connor) (as Charles Moon); Strange Interlude (Herbert Wise—for TV) (as Gordon Evans); The Lady's Not for Burning (Julian Amyes—for TV) (as Thomas Mendip)
Look Back in Anger (Judi Dench—for TV) (as Jimmy Porter)
Swing Kids (Carter) (as SS official, unbilled)
Anne Frank Remembered (Blair—doc) (as narrator)
Othello (Alan Parker) (as Iago); Looking for Richard (Pacino) (as self)
The Gingerbread Man (Altman) (as Rick Magruder); The Theory of Flight (Greengrass) (as Richard); Celebrity (Allen) (as Lee Simon)
Wild, Wild West (Sonnenfeld) (as Dr. Arliss Loveless)
Films as Director:
Henry V (+ title role, sc)
Dead Again (+ ro as Roman Strauss/Mike Church)
Peter's Friends (+ ro as Andrew, pr); Swan Song (short)
Much Ado about Nothing (+ ro as Benedick, co-pr, sc)
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (+ ro as Dr. Frankenstein, co-pr)
A Midwinter's Tale (In the Bleak Midwinter) (+ sc)
Hamlet (+ title role)
Love's Labour's Lost (+ ro as Berowne, sc)
By BRANAGH: books—
Beginning, London, 1989.
Henry V, London, 1989.
Much Ado about Nothing, London, 1993.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: The Classic Tale of Terror Reborn on Film, New York, 1994.
In the Bleak Midwinter: The Shooting Script, New York, 1995.
Hamlet, New York, 1996.
By BRANAGH: articles—
"Formidible Force," interview with Michael Billington, in Interview (New York), October 1989.
"Kenneth Branagh," interview in Premiere (New York), February 1993.
"Man of Many Parts," interview with M. Hindle in Time Out, 26 October 1994.
"It's a Monster: Kenneth Branagh Unveils His Biggest Creation Yet—Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," interview with Graham Fuller, in Interview (New York), November 1994.
"Kenneth Branagh Re-creates the Classics," interview in DGA (Los Angeles), December-January 1994–1995.
Interview with Alain Schlockoff in Écran Fantastique (Paris), December-January 1994–1995.
"Luvvied Up," interview with Steve Grant in Time Out (London), 25 October, 1995.
"My Friends Say I Need a Psychiatrist," interview with Andrew Duncan, in Radio Times (London), 15 February 1997.
On BRANAGH: book—
Shuttleworth, Ian, Ken & Em, New York, 1995.
On BRANAGH: articles—
Haskell, Molly, "People Are Talking about . . . Slow Idyll," in Vogue (New York), January 1988.
Billington, Michael, "Stage Sprite," in Vanity Fair (New York), March 1988.
Billington, Michael, "A New Olivier Is Taking on Henry V on the Screen," in New York Times, 8 January 1989.
Corliss, Richard, "King Ken Comes to Conquer," in Time (New York), 13 November 1989.
Fuller, Graham, "Kenneth," in Film Comment (New York), November-December 1989.
Stuart, Cynthia, "Man Power: Modern British Explorers," in Esquire (New York), January 1990.
Turnbull, Robert, "Much Ado about Something," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), February 1990.
DeCurtis, Anthony, "Hail to the New King on the Block," in Rolling Stone (New York), 8 February 1990.
Stanfill, Francesca, "To the Mantle Born?," in New York, 12 February 1990.
Weber, B., "From Shakespeare to Hollywood," in New York Times, 18 August 1991.
Johnson, Brian D., "Big-Screen Theatre," in Maclean's (Toronto), 26 August 1991.
Booe, M., "Ken Again," in Premiere (New York), September 1991.
Lantos, J., "Beyond the Bard," in Movieline (Hollywood), September 1991.
Perret, E., "L.A. Bard," in Esquire (New York), September 1991.
Feeney, F. X., "Vaulting Ambition," in American Film (New York), September/October 1991.
Wilson, P., "Kenneth Branagh," in Film Monthly (Berkhamsted, England), November 1991.
Miller, R., "Emma Thompson's Family Business," in New York Times, 28 March 1993.
James, Caryn, "Why Branagh's Bard Glows on the Screen," in New York Times, 16 May 1993.
Smith, Dinitia, "Much Ado about Branagh," in New York, 24 May 1993.
Stuart, O., "Mold of Fashion," in Village Voice (New York), 25 May 1993.
Light, A., "The Importance of Being Ordinary," in Sight & Sound (London), September 1993.
"Much Ado about Shakespeare," in Economist (New York), 2 October 1993.
Witchel, Alex, "How Frankenstein Has Created a Hunk," in New York Times, 9 November 1994.
Thornton Burnett, Mark, "The 'very cunning of the scene': Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury), April 1997.
* * *
When Henry V was released, Kenneth Branagh was little-known in America. He had appeared in several films and British made-for-television movies, acted on the stage and co-founded his own theater troupe, the Renaissance Theatre Company. But the 28-year-old filmmaker-phenomenon immediately was hailed as the "new Olivier" for both directing and starring as Shakespeare's warrior-king. Henry V is stirring filmmaking, and a tour de force which instantly thrust Branagh into the front ranks of international film personalities. As British critic Alexander Walker observed, the film "confirmed that all Laurence Olivier taught us about filming Shakespeare has not been forgotten—only boldly revised to fit a crueller world of kingship and power, mercifully one still tempered by magnificently spoken poetry." With an emphasis on Henry's exploration of his inner self, Branagh had produced a coming-of-age film that appealed to a broad contemporary audience. Although his battle scenes are bloodier than Olivier's and his wounded warriors are more ghastly, Branagh's view clearly is antiwar, a philosophy which touched modern viewers. As a critics' favorite and darling of the art film crowd, Branagh signed a lucrative contract to write his autobiography, a witty anecdotal ramble aptly called Beginnings, which was published while he still was in his twenties.
Branagh's other major go at cinematizing Shakespeare is the almost-equally successful Much Ado about Nothing, a delightfully airy, inventive version of the Shakespeare comedy adapted by Branagh. He and his then-wife, Emma Thompson, are cast as Benedick and Beatrice. They are especially charming when pitching cleverly written, risqué puns and slurs at each other. The same year, he found time to appear unbilled as a Nazi in Swing Kids, an unusual World War II story about the Nazi persecution of German adolescents who enjoyed American popular music.
Between his robust interpretations of the Bard, Branagh again won praise for directing and starring in two films which are very different in nature. In the British-made comedy-drama Peter's Friends, he is the husband of a flamboyant and ill-tempered Hollywood television star. In the Hollywood-produced film noir thriller Dead Again, he audaciously plays two roles, a fast-talking gumshoe and a sophisticated European composer who has emigrated to Los Angeles (in flashbacks to the 1940s). In both films, his co-star is Thompson.
It seemed Branagh the wunderkind could do no wrong until he was hired by Francis Ford Coppola to direct and star in the lavish, $40-million production, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The briskly-paced, stylized attempt to bring the classic novel to the screen with authenticity resulted in a bizarre, out-of-control disaster. Critics turned thumbs down, audiences shied away, and Branagh encountered the first major setback of what had seemed a charmed career.
Since that debacle marred his remarkable record, Branagh has scaled back the extent of his involvement in film projects. What followed was A Midwinter's Tale, the first film he directed (and wrote) in which he did not appear before the cameras. The black-and-white British production offers a somewhat coy, comical take on the "Let's put on a show in the barn" theme. At the time the film was released, another blow fell when the announcement was made that he and Thompson had separated. At that time, Branagh's immediate plans included starring as Iago in Oliver Parker's upcoming film of Othello and directing and playing the lead in Hamlet.
—Audrey E. Kupferberg
"Branagh, Kenneth." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/branagh-kenneth-0
"Branagh, Kenneth." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved June 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/branagh-kenneth-0
"Branagh, Kenneth." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/branagh-kenneth
"Branagh, Kenneth." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved June 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/branagh-kenneth