Publisher Profile

The King – Original score from the Netflix film

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Publisher’s note: Spoiler alert.

The brilliance of today’s film producers is thoroughly demonstrated in the 2019 Netflix Original movie, The King. Except for a few passing scenes during the Battle of Agincourt, camera movements are fluidic and never disruptive, well composed and choreographed, and eminently enjoyable to watch. Director David Michod is to be praised also for a movie watching experience resplendent with not loud and bashing sound effects but an audiophile-grade, musical and unusually creative score by composer Nicholas Britell.

The Shakespearean play of Henry V is fantastical and elusive compared to the one in the Brad Pitt co-produced, new Netflix Original movie. Breaking from common conception, The King portrays the newly crowned protagonist as somber and cautious, his demeanor forged from trappings and misgivings throughout his juvenile years, not the least for being in contentious strives with his tyrannical father, Henry IV, and his younger brother, Thomas of Lancaster. Thus set the tone and background of the movie, insomuch devout Shakespeareans may be disillusioned to witness a movie aiming for a less poetic or fantastical but a grittier depiction of history.

For one, while the character of Sir John Falstaff remains in the movie, he is completely unlike the Shakespearean character and even goes on and leads the Battle of Agincourt! Forget the timeless “We happy few” St. Crispin’s Day Speech by Henry V, for in its place is a script that beckons one to fight as if he was England itself. And then there is the slaying of William Gascoigne, who the history never recorded as having accompanied the king at Agincourt, or died by the hand of the king. Note that Falstaff’s calling Henry V “Hal” is an invention of Shakespeare’s, curiously adopted by the film’s producers.

In spite of the artistic license aforementioned, The King is a dramatically rousing and choreographically stunning work, not the least of all the visceral and haunting soundtrack by Britell.

Played through the 6-feet tall, 35 inches wide curved electrostatic panels of the Sound Lab Majestic 645  as driven by the Pass Laboratories XA200.8 pure Class A monoblocks, sourcing from the new Esoteric K-01XD SACD player, the rambling bottom-end of the synthesizer accompanied richly textured tuba is captivating.

It matters not the position and station one possesses in life, misery exists in all. It is self provoked and never-ending, refuses to be annulled by health and wealth. It is a condition of existence of humans as old as there has been recorded history, as long as we are dissatisfied with where we are and what we have. The King depicts that amply. The Nicholas Britell score is sympathetic to the quandaries faced by the newly crowned Henry V. It trudges along the many scenes of internal struggles of the king, who despite his extraordinary intellect is nonetheless inexperienced, thus easily coerced by self-serving, treacherous politicians.

It is, thus, a moment of genius as the producers take us, the audience, along on an up note in turn of events as war declaration is made and the country is beckoned towards the path of war. The score remains sonorous and communicative, according us insights into the king’s mental state. It takes the vantage point of history and not insomuch of the actions or characters themselves. History views the Battle of Agincourt as calamitous though England prevailed, and the score reminds one of it.

In most cases, a historically correct production of a Shakespeare play always makes a minor noise during its release and is promptly cast aside in perpetuity. This version of Henry V is too well made to be forgotten.

For the Shakespearean enthusiasts, Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 movie with the stirring score by Patrick Doyle, performed by the then lesser known City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Simon Rattle at the podium is indispensable. The Netflix version, then, is the new pole bearer for the history buff and has no peers. It is a beautiful thing that director David Michod’s vision for the film includes a high deference for the Britell score and maintains the serene and majestic music audible and clear during and above all scenes.

The soundtrack is epic and merits being experienced and enjoyed on its own. Tidal streams it, and it can be purchased as 24-bit, 48KHz high-resolution downloads from websites such as HDtracks and Presto Classical.


Review system:

PS Audio DirectStream Power Plant 20 AC regenerator

Acoustic Sciences Corporation TubeTraps
Audio Reference Technology Analysts EVO interconnects, power cable
Audio Reference Technology Analysts SE interconnects, power cables
Audio Reference Technology Super SE interconnects, power cables
Stealth Audio Cables Helios phono cable

Esoteric K-01XD SACD player

Pass Laboratories Xs Preamp
Pass Laboratories XA200.8 pure class A monoblocks
Bricasti Design M28 class AB monoblocks
Margules Audio u-280SC Black ultralinear tube monoblocks
Sound Lab Majestic 645 electrostatic panels


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