Full disclosure.I own an action figure of Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the mere fact that this character was played by Kenneth Branagh.It looks enough like Branagh if you squint, and he’s holding a wand in one hand and a sprung-open cage in the other as if to say nothing can contain my vast love for you, Cynthia Hawkins.Or rather it cannot contain the Cornish Pixie that flies out of said cage when you wrench the figure’s arm a certain way, but, whatever.He’s my very own tiny Kenneth, and I will love him and pet him and where were we?Oh yes.I love Kenneth Branagh.Despite himself.He was so good as Lockhart, in fact, because the character served as a sort of parody for the fantastically arrogant person he himself is rumored to be.
Most Branagh fans (including, I suspect, Branagh himself) can trace their diehard adoration back to Branagh’s film adaptation of Henry V. Here. Watch Branagh’s St. Crispin’s Day speech and tell me this scene doesn’t roll your socks up and down:
Henry V was so well done, in fact, that it triggered a resurgence in cinematically-ambitious Shakespearian film adaptations (most of which were also Branagh’s).Its awesomeness also spawned the sort of Branagh devotee who could remain so even after Dead Again and Frankenstein and the splitting from Emma Thompson.And who among us Branagh devotees could really blame Branagh for casting his too-old self as Hamlet, bleaching his hair in Laurence Olivier fashion, and having his Hamlet carried off in crucified-Christ pose in the end?He’s Branagh of Henry V!In all-caps!With exclamation marks!
And now he sits on my shelf, shaking his little wand at me and saying, “You better damn well give Thor a decent review.”Because Thor, in case you were unaware, is directed by the Kenneth Branagh, and I am, as I’ve been with so many Branagh projects since Henry V, conflicted.I’ve even dusted off my Holly Golightly costume (oh, who am I kidding – I wear it all the time) and made a nifty video for you to demonstrate this Branagh effect in action: