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Openly reticent

Jonathan Coe, 9 November 1989

Grand Inquisitor: Memoirs 
by Robin Day.
Weidenfeld, 296 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 297 79660 7
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by Kenneth Branagh.
Chatto, 244 pp., £12.99, September 1989, 0 7011 3388 0
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Storm over 4: A Personal Account 
by Jeremy Isaacs.
Weidenfeld, 215 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 297 79538 4
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... not to repeat Mrs Thatcher’s famous gaffe) that time has come at the age of 68; in the case of Kenneth Branagh, at the age of 28. Make of that what you will. Actually I had never thought that Kenneth Branagh was a particularly interesting person until the press started to tell me that he was, whereas Robin Day ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Dunkirk’, 17 August 2017

... by the fact that the heroic pilot’s role is handsomely filled by Tom Hardy, while the navy gets Kenneth Branagh, his eyes moist as he thinks of ‘home’, and ready to stay on after the evacuation to do what he can ‘for the French’. I imagine this line is meant to sound decent, even noble, but it comes across as patronising, suggesting that he is ...


Joanna Kavenna: In Tromsø, 31 October 2002

... benefits of the Polar industry – the biopics, the biographies, the inexplicable determination of Kenneth Branagh (of Shackleton) to out-act John Mills (of Scott of the Antarctic), the retellings of modern legends about the explorers freezing and dying and writing poetry as they did so. But Tromsø is almost empty. There seem to be hardly any ...

Make use of me

Jeremy Treglown: Olivia Manning, 9 February 2006

Olivia Manning: A Life 
by Neville Braybrooke and June Braybrooke.
Chatto, 301 pp., £20, November 2004, 0 7011 7749 7
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... by Emma Thompson) takes from her marriage and the impact of her supposed death on Guy (Kenneth Branagh did these scenes with a thrilling rawness) both bring a shift in the balance not so much of power as of need between the partners. James Cellan Jones’s direction made the most of the battle scenes too. Manning herself hadn’t seen ...

Identity Parade

Linda Colley, 25 February 1993

People and Places: Country House Donors and the National Trust 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 232 pp., £19.99, October 1992, 0 7195 5145 5
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The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660-1769 
by Michael Dobson.
Oxford, 266 pp., £30, October 1992, 0 19 811233 5
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Myths of the English 
edited by Roy Porter.
Polity, 280 pp., £39.50, October 1992, 0 7456 0844 2
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Fields of Vision: Landscape Imagery and National Identity in England and the United States 
by Stephen Daniels.
Polity, 257 pp., £39.50, November 1992, 0 7456 0450 1
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... own career, puffing him as the nation’s number-one playwright – just like Lawrence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh would go on to do – as a means of representing himself as its number-one actor. He had himself painted and engraved alongside Shakespeare’s bust. And he commissioned Roubiliac to do a sculpture of Shakespeare in the guise of a prosperous ...

Turning Wolfe Tone

John Kerrigan: A Third Way for Ireland, 20 October 2022

directed by Kenneth Branagh.
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Small World: Ireland 1798-2018 
by Seamus Deane.
Cambridge, 343 pp., £20, June 2021, 978 1 108 84086 6
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Irish Literature in Transition 
edited by Claire Connolly and Marjorie Howes.
Cambridge, six vols, £564, March 2020, 978 1 108 42750 0
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Ireland, Literature and the Coast: Seatangled 
by Nicholas Allen.
Oxford, 305 pp., £70, November 2020, 978 0 19 885787 7
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A History of Irish Literature and the Environment 
edited by Malcolm Sen.
Cambridge, 457 pp., £90, July, 978 1 108 49013 9
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... Kenneth Branagh​ ’s Belfast is set in the early months of the Troubles, in a mixed working-class district that is cleared of its Catholic residents by a loyalist mob. Paving stones are lifted to barricade the end of the street. Neighbourhood vigilantes are replaced by paramilitaries and the British army. Though the representation of events is spare and often stylised, the film catches the impact of the crisis not just on smashed and burned terraced houses but on the fabric of everyday decency ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, 30 November 2017

Murder on the Orient Express 
directed by Kenneth Brannagh.
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... The great detective​ never rests, and perhaps doesn’t want to, although in Kenneth Branagh’s new film he does express a wish for a day or two off. No such luck, of course, something has to happen even in a slow and glossy movie. He starts off by dealing with a theft in Jerusalem, runs into the titular murder on the Orient Express, and at the end is summoned to a sequel, I mean to Egypt for a job that sounds as if it might involve a death on the Nile ...

The Case of Agatha Christie

John Lanchester, 20 December 2018

... chewing the scenery while also phoning it in. Witness the completely pointless recent remake with Kenneth Branagh as Poirot. John Malkovich is about to impersonate the great detective in a Christmas adaptation of The ABC Murders – now that one I’m looking forward to.) A novel in which the detective did it. A novel in which the entire structure of the ...

Head over heart for Europe

Peter Pulzer, 21 March 1991

Ever Closer Union: Britain’s Destiny in Europe 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hutchinson, 96 pp., £7.99, January 1991, 0 09 174908 5
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The Challenge of Europe: Can Britain win? 
by Michael Heseltine.
Pan, 226 pp., £5.99, February 1991, 9780330314367
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... Sometimes that, too, can lead to retrospective wishful thinking. When I was in Germany last month, Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V was showing everywhere, and had clearly caused something of a stir. More than one German asked me whether it should not be seen as part of a long-standing English vision of European unity. I had to confess that I had never before ...

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