Military DVDs: Did I want to review some? Well not really, no. I’d experienced some before and to be blunt they were awful! I’ve never quite worked out WHY they were so bad, they just were! But, I had a job to do and you have to take the rough with the smooth, so I succumbed to the pressure and agreed to have some sent, well I didn’t actually agree, they were sent anyway! (The Editor can push hard for deadlines).
So, what did I find in the latest parcel from WHO Towers? Well, I was pleasantly surprised, in fact, on two fronts. The first surprise was the inclusion of the DVD ‘Agincourt 1415’ the second surprise was I actually quite liked it! OK, I have to say this, the quality of the camera work was never going to win an award, it looks like it was filmed through cling-film, and the sound recorded through a pillow; but the actual content was informative and to my surprise in-depth. I thought I knew most of what happened at Agincourt and I suppose I did, in a sort of ‘Horrible Histories’ kind of way.
The English and Welsh land in France, somewhere near Le Havre, to be precise, with their longbows. They fight, walk their way up to the Somme and fight some more. They get the flux, crap themselves thin and fight again. Then they go to Agincourt with their longbows and crap some more. Not only are they involved in one of the first artillery duels in history but they also basically invent biological warfare by crapping on their arrows before sending them into the French knights who were being massacred and drowning underfoot in the mud. All this before fighting and crapping some more and eventually beating the French hands down in a field full of blood, dead or dying knights, mud and……. crap.
Sounds like your typical England football hooligan abroad doesn’t it? Well that’s Agincourt (in my mind at least) but obviously it goes much deeper than that. The tale is enhanced by iconic Shakespearian speeches, be it from Lawrence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh and we all have our visions of the Brits kicking the French (not for the last time in History).
The DVD obviously isn’t as immature as me over such historical matters and it does turn up some new ideas and interesting theories on the subject and (Major) Tim Saunders, a veteran of war himself, looks more than keen to handle and talk weapons with the living historians who help add a splash of colour and realism to the melee.
A few myths are dispelled along the way – a childish one I was quite sad to learn about and some I wasn’t so surprised about. Don’t expect a roller-coaster ride of excitement and awe or any cutting edge special effects and you won’t be disappointed; because there aren’t any! That said, it is watchable and there’s loads to learn in the hundred or so minutes; so if this period of history is for you then it’s worth a look.
Just don’t forget the cling-film for your glasses!
Reviewed by Squire Philip de Hodges for War History Online.
The six hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt takes place on 25th October next year. If you’replanning any commemorative events we would love to here from you.
100 Years War series
Andrew Duff & Tim Saunders
Pen & Sword